Settling on a name for our local church was a fascinating expedition. It wasn’t as straightforward as I expected it to be. Well, I’m not even sure what I expected because truth be told, we’d never had to do this before.
What’s in a name?
I swung between extremes. On the one hand, I was so wrapped up in the name being something so significant, so heavenly that the longer we went on without a name the more the pressure mounted. Then on the other hand, I knew that not everything hinges on a name because ultimately it’s the substance or character behind the name that gives it credibility.
When we speak of something or someone having a “good name” we aren’t speaking of the name itself, we’re speaking of our and other peoples experience of that someone or something. A “good name” reputation is also only established over years, not days. (On the reverse, it’s amazing how a good name can be ruined over night … not over years).
Think about it, some of the most recognisable names in the world aren’t exactly the best names but people have obviously experienced enough good from those names that they are now reputable.
Why does a church even need a name?
This is a question I had been posed and one that has some validity. Isn’t it “all” just church? Yes, it is all church but think about what a name brings. A name gives a connection point, the ability to locate. It helps with communication, with invitation and framing identity.
A name is not the be all and end all but it is important. One thing that I was determined for it to be was unique. I also wanted to stay away from the name being cool for the sake of trying to be cool or catchy so that it was easily marketable.
We didn’t arrive with “Co-” overnight which is fairly common in a creative process, even one that is spiritual. I’m glad we journeyed with it, processed it and gave it fair analysis before settling on it.
Here are some of the names we threw around.
One of the initial names that I was dead set on using was “Symphony”. I love the definition of symphony, it’s a collection of individual parts coming together to create harmony but the more I said it out loud and ran it past people the more it just didn’t sit well. We also had names like “Resonant” and “Others” as options but again when we were saying them and talking with people about them we weren’t convinced.
Over the past year I’ve really started to enjoy listening to podcasts. I’ve found it a brilliant way to use commuting time to learn. So, I was listening to a podcast recently, one that is Christian centric and the guests were discussing the church and the significance of authentic community. Tam and I have both felt so strongly about the importance of real and sincere community and so this conversation was resonating with me (oh, the concept of resonating is where I had the name “Resonant” as an option, just FYI). I kept hearing the word “community, community, community” and for some reason I became fixated on the phrase “co” of community.
For some reason pondering on “co” led me to think of all the other “co” type words and what does “co-” actually mean.
The “co-” in Co- Church is the actual prefix. It doesn’t stand for company or collective. You see the prefix “co-” is powerful. What it means is “together; with; jointly, one that is associated with another in action, fellow; partner”. That definition encapsulates who we are, speaking of myself and Tam, and who we hope our community of faith to be. The beauty of the prefix “co-” is that whenever it’s added to a word, it takes the subject from being individual to collective. For me, that’s what church is, it’s life together, life as a part of a collective, a community. I also like that it’s not overstated or the main part of the subject and for me that’s a beautiful thing because the main figure in this story is Jesus, not us.
We want to co-lead, collaborate, co-create, live as co-heirs with Christ and be in community.
A name is just a name and we don’t intend to make to big a deal of it. We’d much rather celebrate Jesus than celebrate “Co-” and we’d much rather people have their allegiance to Jesus than to “Co-“. We do like the name though, which I guess is a good thing, right?