What's in this session?
- Disclaimer (0:42)
- Tip #1: Don't Use Acronym (1:51)
- Tip #2: Keep It Short (3:20)
- Tip #3: Use Your Area Code (4:56)
- Tip #4: Consider Dropping/Exchanging 'Church' (6:55)
- Tip #5: Make It Memorable (8:48)
Show notes and resources
- FEATURED RESOURCE: The NEW Pro Church Tools
- Elevation Church
- Vertical Chapel
- Arlington Assembly
- Piedmont Chapel
- Pro Video Announcements
- The Creative Pastor
- Pro Church Tools
- Pro Church Tools on Facebook
- Pro Church Tools on YouTube
- Brady Shearer on Instagram
- Brady Shearer on Twitter
- Alex Mills on Instagram
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Brady: No doubt about it, deciding on a name for a church or ministry can feel impossible. What you don’t want to do is choose a named carelessly and then find yourself stuck with it. So in this podcast, I want to share five tips with you to help make the process easier. I’ll even share with you my favorite church names along with a few of my least favorite.
Alex: Well hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where, in 10 minutes or less, you’re going to get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, Brady Shearer.
Brady: Today Alex, we wanted to talk about giving your church a name or naming a new ministry within your already named church. We’ve got five tips. Now, I do want to make the disclaimer that everything you’re about to hear comes from a company called Pro Church Tools, which we can all agree is a ridiculously terrible name.
Alex: I don’t think it’s as bad as you think it is, but I can also agree that it’s not great.
Brady: I just want to be honest about the trash name that we have.
Alex: Well, you’ve learned, right? It’s been a long time since we named this company and so these tips are coming from experience.
Brady: To talk about the origin of Pro Church Tools, my buddy, my best man Steve, kind of encouraged me to get started with Pro Church Tools, and I still remember the email that he sent me. It had like eight different names and he’s like, just choose one, start a blog. I was like, alright, Pro Church Tools. It was like the sixth one on the list. That’s not how you should choose a name, people. Okay? But as a side note, what’s important to recognize about names is that no matter how bad it is, it can be overcome because a name eventually becomes kind of consumed by the brand itself.
Brady: That being said, in an ideal world, you don’t choose your name carelessly the way that I did, and when we named Nucleus and when we named Story Tape, we learned from our mistakes, and we want to share five tips with you to help choose a great name for your church or your next ministry.
Tip Number one is to never use acronyms. Acronyms are from the devil. I don’t say that with hyperbole. That’s an accurate statement. Why? Well, because acronyms have this great deception built within, and that is acronyms promise to simplify your communication. But what do they do? They do the exact opposite. They over complicate things because acronyms are very difficult to remember.
Brady: Why do you use an acronym? Because your name is already too long. And then you shorten it, and then the acronym is just as equally difficult to remember. I have seen churches with seven, oh, seven character acronyms, and then their website is like abcfumc.ca.
Alex: That’s actually not a joke.
Brady: We have been to a church in person, Alexa and I together, looking at the screen, I think it was also in Papyrus, shaking our heads and being like, Lord return. This is not the way it should be.
Alex: Yeah, and you know what’s tough about acronyms too is trying to orally communicate them, like whether it’s on the phone or whatever. It’s like, yeah, we’re yfbmc.com. It’s like YMBMG? No, it’s YFBMC.
Brady: E as in echo, T as in tango.
Alex: Right, yeah. It’s just like you said, they over promise, under deliver, they’re deceptive, they’re from the father of lies. Stay away from them.
Brady: I understand why we use acronyms. We want to be clear with our communication, but the acronym will do the exact opposite. Avoid them at all costs. Tip number two, keep your name short. My recommendation would be, ideally, you’d have a two word church name, i.e. Life Church, Elevation Church, Vertical Chapel.
Brady: And in a perfect world, you could also short form it to a single word. So Elevation or My Church, Central. That would be the ideal. When you get to three words, trust me, I know, prochurchtools.com. When you get to four words, sometimes out of necessity, First United Methodist Church, it becomes more difficult. That’s when you get into the realm of acronyms, and it just becomes less memorable. These are just tips and tricks. There’s no hard line. There is no black and white here. Every name is a creative and artistic dance, but if it was me, and I was naming a church from scratch, and I do think about this a lot, and I do buy domain names needlessly.
Alex: All the time.
Brady: Recklessly. I would go for two words and hopefully the main word could be shortened to like that single word.
Alex: Yeah, I love that. And we do this all the time with a lot of these popular churches. You mentioned a few already like Elevation Church is often, we’ll just refer to them as Elevation.
Brady: Bethel, Hillsong.
Alex: And it just kind of happens organically just because that name was so carefully selected and chosen. It just happens and it makes it so much easier to remember. You don’t have to worry about, oh, how can we short form this name? What acronym can we assign to this so that it’s easier to remember? No, it just happens. You just have to be a little bit more mindful about how you’re naming these things.
Brady: One tip that we’ve been talking about internally at the office, and this is the third tip that we want to share, we think this is an interesting idea. I don’t know if I’ve seen a church actually do this. It was your idea. Have you seen a church do this?
Alex: I forget where the idea came from. I think I saw it in another context and then I thought, oh, I could totally apply this to my church.
Brady: It was like a different industry.
Brady: So a lot of churches have names that are like every other church, and Alex is a good example, Life Abundant Church. There are many, many, many, many life abundant churches. If your church is something like that, a Journey Church, a Hope Church, a Life Church, one thing that you can do is take your one word like Life or a like Journey, and then assign your regionals area code phone number to that. That can become your URL, it can become your social handle.
So for instance, if you are Journey Church from Toronto, you could be Journey 416, journey416.com, Journey416 on social. What I love about this is that it takes a three digit phrase that everyone’s already aware of because it’s in everyone’s phone number in your region. So it’s so familiar, which is different from an acronym that you’ve made up that no one’s familiar with yet. Everyone’s familiar with the area code already, and because no one does this, you can find a short URL, a short social handle that’s memorable and also available, which is a huge win.
Alex: When we were chatting about this last week in the office, I got so excited that I started recklessly buying domains because I just love life905.com. I love the way that sounds, the way it feels, how memorable it is, but as a pastor, I love kind of the regional responsibility. It kind of puts back in the local church. It kind of says like, this is our identity. In the 905, this is where we are, this is who we are. These are the people that we serve and this is why we’re here. It’s Life 905, we’re here because God put us here in this region for this time. It’s 905, this is where we are.
Brady: I don’t know if this is where you got it from, but the Raptors Development League team did this, the Toronto Raptors D League Team, now known as the G League, is in Mississauga and they’re called Raptors 905.
Alex: It is not where I got it from, but I did know that.
Brady: And that is a good example. So tip number four, moving on. Consider exchanging or dropping the word church from your name. So right now, my church is in a building campaign. We’re doing this giant new building in the region and the marquee, from what I understand, on the church is not going to read Central Community Church. It’s just going to read Central, and we want that brand to be within the community, and there’s a huge reason for that because the new building is going to have a ton of auditoriums that we’re renting out, and it’s going to be like a a huge community central spot, not just a church.
If that’s something that you’re not comfortable with, something that other churches are doing are exchanging church with chapel, so Vertical Chapel or Free Chapel are two examples. I really like that, and that’s another way to, again, stay within the constraints of two words. And this is tough, like the shorter you are, the more difficult it is to find your unique spot because someone else has almost surely done it before, but if you can exchange words like church with chapel, you can probably find your unique landing spot that’s just for you.
Alex: For sure. We went through a rebrand a few years ago. We were formerly Life Abundant Fellowship, and I had an altogether new name that I came up with that got voted down, which is fine, because the people in our church wanted to keep Life Abundant. I thought, you know what, that’s great, but we wanted a third word on there, and we didn’t want it to be fellowship. We kind of wanted to exchange out that Christian-ese. We didn’t want church. And so what we did was we rebranded as Life Abundant Niagara, and it serves us twofold.
First, it establishes kind of like that area code, where we are, why we are, we’re in Niagara, and then opens a door for, you know, if we expand past our capacity right now and we moved to another city, we could be Life Abundant St. Catherine’s or Life Abundant Niagara Falls. Opens that door for other campuses, but also, it gives you the ability to drop Niagara and just refer to us as Life Abundant. So it’s more memorable. You get down to that two word phrase, and that’s worked really well for us.
Brady: Final tip that we want to share with you is to make it memorable. Now, what I might say right now sounds controversial, but if it was me and I was naming a church, I would avoid really common church phrases. Such examples would be solid rock, grace, fellowship, community, the church named Grace Fellowship Community, Bible, all nations, all saints, Bethesda, calvary, Morningstar. These are the phrases that have been done by great churches and I want something that’s unique to me and a little bit different.
Now, I’m also not against using the timeless phrases like Redeemer Church or Emmanuel Church. I’m not against that, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to do something that’s been done by literally thousands of churches, so those would be considered like maybe some of my least favorite church names just because they’re so done already.
Brady: Here are some of my favorite church names that kind of follow all of these tips and can serve as great examples. So we already mentioned Elevation Church.
Brady: Vertical Chapel, which is a church we do video announcements for. We do video announcements for another church called Arlington Assembly.
Alex: A little bit of alliteration there.
Brady: A little bit of alliteration in Arlington Assembly. I like that. We also, oh, Piedmont Chapel. Our friend Kendall Connor from the Creative Pastor and Church Motion Graphics, that’s his church that he planted a couple of years ago. I love that. Piedmont is obviously the region, I believe, and then chapel again. Mosaic Church is great, Vu Church is great. Those are names that are uniquely theirs, and when you think of Mosaic, you think of Vu, those are singular words that I immediately register as, oh that’s that church.
Brady: So some great examples.
Alex: We’ve talked about Life Church before. I love that name because if you see their branding, their marquee on their building, it’s not two words. It’s life.church everywhere, and that’s because that’s their URL as well. And so that’s super helpful for brand consistency and just people knowing the identity of that church. One of my favorites though is Judah Smith’s church. They just did a rebrand.
Brady: Oh, this is a controversial one.
Alex: Is it really?
Brady: Oh yeah.
Alex: Oh, man.
Brady: Some people loathe it.
Alex: When I saw his new website and saw the new name of their church, I just couldn’t get over it.
Brady: The branding and their website is unreal.
Brady: I’m still unsure about how I feel about the name.
Alex: They’ve called their church Church Home.
Brady: Church Home.
Alex: But it’s not two words, it’s one word like you said, and there’s not two H’s. Like church doesn’t end with an H and home doesn’t begin with an H. It’s C-H-U-R-C-H-O-M-E, Churchome, one word. I love it. It communicates and the identity establishes what it means. I think it’s super creative. It’s not something that’s been done before.
Brady: Accurate, very meaningful, very unique. Only thought about them when you hear that.
Alex: Yeah, and I think if you are naming a new ministry or a new church, what would be helpful is to sit down and kind of get rid of any preconceived ideas about what you think your church should be named, or church names that you’ve heard of before, or all these religious Christian-ese terms that we have to name churches, and just sit down and say, who is our church? Who are we serving? What are we trying to do?
And try and step out of that world for a second and and come up with something that’s unique for your church, unique to the identity of your church, the purpose of your church, and something meaningful like Churchome or Vu Church. All these names are crafted with such intention, and that’s going to be a meaningful name that is going to last for a long time.
Brady: Hopefully some helpful tips and recognizing that everything we say is meaningless because of Pro Church Tools. That will do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time.
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