For three years, Bishop George L. Davis, pastor of Faith Christian Center in Jacksonville, Fla., has been frustrated. It was three years ago that name change stories in the Bible started to stand out to him: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah and Simon to Peter.
Each change reflected that God was giving them a different direction, and calling them to accomplish something new.
As Bishop Davis shared with his congregation: “Throughout the Bible, when God has a new purpose and plan, he would often change someone’s name.”
The name “Faith Christian Center” had been effective. But in his spirit, he felt it was time to accomplish something new. Plus, in today’s digital age, names matter more than ever. Some experts say that online, people take a second or less to read about you—based on how much the name attracts them. Type the name “Faith Christian Center” into Google, and page after page of churches show up—not exactly a unique identity.
Even more important, Bishop Davis felt like God was doing a new work in this growing church. So after working intensely over the last year with his creative team and pastoral staff, the decision was made:
Faith Christian Center would become Impact Church.
The official change happened this Easter Sunday, and the congregation was thrilled. He said after the service, “Certainly it takes time to grieve the loss of the old name—a name that we have loved for many years. But I can’t describe the excitement of our congregation over this new identity.”
As one long time church member put it: “The name Faith Christian Center has said, “Come to us and we will teach you faith.” The name Impact Church says, “We are coming to you to change your life wherever you are.”
Bishop Davis wants people in Jacksonville and beyond to know that Impact Church is a place where their lives will be impacted in an eternal way. It’s a place that will make a lasting and profound difference for the Kingdom. At the same time, they wanted to “impact” their 10 locations around the world. With a network of churches throughout Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and even Peru, changing the name would allow all those churches to be readily identified as a global family, so they become the Impact Church in their respective areas.
How about your church? Could you take a lesson from these great name-change stories in the Bible, and consider the strategy of Bishop Davis? If your church name is tired, doesn’t reflect the identity, mission, or purpose of your congregation, or doesn’t connect with your community, here’s some principles to consider:
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