Seven Trends in Church Names

The call came from an eager young man starting a new church in Florida. He already had 50 people meeting in homes in Bible studies. They had secured a leased space to launch the church in just a few months. But they were having trouble coming to a consensus on the name of the church. What could I tell him about church names? Were there pitfalls or opportunities where they needed greater awareness for their church’s name?

While I could not provide a precise church name for their congregation, I could share with him these seven trends I had seen emerge. Perhaps “trend” is not the best choice of a word, since some of these issues have been around for quite a while.

  1. Newer churches are consistently using descriptors in their names other than denominational affiliation. Some are focusing on their location. Others are at least implying a distinctive doctrinal leaning. And still others are using more trendy and less common terms.
  2. Denominational names, though, are still dominant among church names. Though the information is four years old, did a fascinating study of church names. Some of their conclusions are still valid today. Denominational names still dominate, and “Baptist” is the major denominational name.
  3. The most common church name is “First Baptist.” Over 5,000 churches have this name. Of course, this name by itself does not specify which Baptist denomination; and there are many different denominations that have Baptist in their own name.
  4. Many words are becoming common in newer church names. Some of those words are Christ, Community, Fellowship, Assembly, Center, Chapel, Life, Faith, Bible, Grace, and New.
  5. Outsiders are often confused about church names. Several years ago, I did an informal survey of the preferred denomination among unchurched persons. The second most frequent response was the “Community” denomination. Of course, that denomination does not exist; but it is in a lot of church names.
  6. The Internet has led to shorter church names. Churches are choosing names that don’t become a long URL.
  7. Church names may be important, but they are not the most important factor in people choosing a church home. Relationships, personal invitations, good preaching, and friendly people, among other reasons, still trump the church name as the reason someone chooses a particular church.

One of the more challenging features of a church name takes place when the church is named for a location, but that location no longer exists. Or, perhaps, the church moved from that location. So if Hickory Avenue Community Church is no longer located on Hickory Avenue, guests may be confused by the name related to the location. Still, many churches tenaciously hold on to such names, even if it engenders confusion.

I also see a number of churches take a name after a church split. For example, a group of people split from the Harmony Church after an ugly church fight, and took on the new name of Greater Harmony Church.

I would love to hear your thoughts on church names. I also hope some of you can share some interesting and, perhaps, humorous church names of which you are aware.

Posted on April 23, 2014

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • The Rev. Richard Bowley (Independent Lutheran Diocese) says on

    There are two Presbyterian congregations in Havertown, PA that are part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) that does not use a denominational tag, but instead use the “Community Church” tag to make them sound non-denominational. The same goes with a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) congregation off of 69th Street in Upper Darby, PA (near the Tower Theater) that also does not call themselves Presbyterian, but instead just calls themselves Crossroads Church to make themselves sound, again non-denominational.

  • Joseph Collins ll says on

    Thank you so much , you just gave me a idea for my mom’s new church

  • Kay McKinnis says on

    I have enjoyed all the comments above. The church I belong to is going to rename itself very soon. I was in search of some wisdom in suggesting a name. I wish I had done this search earlier. There is much to digest and much to pray about. Thanks for a nice article.

  • The funniest church name I’ve come across is The Church of Uncertain in Uncertain, TX.

  • caral from SoCal says on

    I attend an Evangelical Free Church, whose name is the TOWN, followed by the denomination. This makes for a loooonnnng and confusing name. We have had visitors who thought the “Free” meant there were no offerings taken. We have had people both come because, and not come because, the word “Evangelical” is in the name. The fact that our town name is also a bit long just confuses the situation more. When our little Sparkies go to AWANA games, and they are asked what church they attend, not one of them can manage it! We are in consideration for a name change, but it boils down to: we want the name to express who we are, we want it to contain the word “church,” and we want it to be timeless (not have to be changed again in our lifetimes!). I suspect that’s what makes “Grace” and “Faith” such popular monikers – Grace & Faith are always in style!

  • I grew up in NE Alabama. There is a Hustleville Baptist Church there. Named after the community, it could unintentionally imply other things.

    I loved the original article and realize this probably wasn’t intended to be a “give us your craziest church name” post. I just couldn’t resist.

    As a church planter, I have an eye that notices a lot of fly-by-night type of names. I saw one recently that caught my attention…”The Movement.” I want a movement, but my mind kind of goes to potty humor like the “blue ball baptist” mention. At least the word Movement doesn’t have a descriptor like “The Laborious Movement.”

  • My favorite is Bodenburg Butte Baptist Church in Butte, Alaska. I just love how this rolls off the tongue.

  • I pastor First Baptist Smithfield! There is no Smithfield Texas any more. When people ask where I serve and I answer there’s often this initial expression of ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard of that, followed by the confused look of, what’s a smithfield.
    I would prefer Smithfield Road baptist, because there is a smithfield road, or something more inviting than a location. But, its really not ALL about the name apparently, unless its something like the one I heard of in NY; the Soul Saving Station for Every Nation: Christ’s Crusaders Inc.

  • Johnny O says on

    My roommate in college worked as a youth pastor at the First Hispanic American Baptist Church of San Jose, when visiting I’d hear him answering the phone “Thank you for calling the FHABCSJ…” haha

  • I think a name should not only speak to the Biblically literate such as “Maranatha” or “Skekinah”, or “Tabernacle”. It should speak to the unsaved. Names like “New Beginning” or “New Life…” says something to the world. Where “Full Gospel Apostolic Tabernacle” doesn’t.

  • Thanks for this post. This is really resourceful.
    Just as you said, names of churches arebecoming shorter and more ‘corporate/organisational’.

    I have also observed that ministeries are now associating themselves with fellowship and/or network having a paradigm shift from the ‘normal church’ ‘church’ is no longer becoming a sunday affair. This is what’s rising here in Nigeria.
    Greetings from Nigeria!

  • The best example of a church name that someone hadn’t thought about belonged to “The Original Church of God #2” located in Texas. Being Pentecostal in experience and ministry, I have a concern for new Pentecostal/Charismatic congregations that seem to be afraid to let the visitor or the community know that they are Pentecostal in style of worship and that they believe in speaking in tongues. They will tag themselves as “Forest Grove Church” or “Shady Meadow Community Church”, appearing to hide the fact that they believe in speaking in tongues lest the greater community will think that they are weird. Their thinking is, “Who would want to go to ‘Tongues of Fire Holiness Pentecostal Church, when they could go to Shady Meadow?” My thinking is, don’t hide who you are and what your congregation believes. If you are afraid that the community will think you are weird and bizarre because of what they perceive from your name, chances are they have already got you pegged, so you either have a choice of living up to their expectations, developing a strong opposition to what they perceive that you are, or compromising to something in the middle. In my opinion, being anything other than what and who you really are is hypocritical, so be who you are.

1 3 4 5 6