I got to know a retired pro wrestler working as a security guard at the private school where I drove Zamboni. Ken was pretty much huge. I attempted on numerous occasions to find out his wrestling ring name, but for some reason he never gave in. I am not sure if this part some secret fraternal code because he wore a mask or what. My best guess is that Ken wrestled as “Ken.” As a general rule, if a guy wrestles with his own name he is not going to win. They don’t even let him have a cool outfit (there is a relative statement). Regardless, in the world of wrestling, you need a name that is easy to say and has some meaning. The same is true for a church.
Most of the world shares the concept that a name should be easy to say to some degree or another. Casey Kasem’s given name is actually Kamal Kasem. It may just be my opinion, but I don’t think “Rigdon Dees III and the weekly top 40” has the same ring as “Rick Dees and the weekly top 40.” In radio, sound is king and meaning takes a backseat to how well a name will sound. This is the exception. Most businesses, products and even pro wrestlers recognize that a name should both convey meaning and be easy to say. Simply put, “The Rock” has more meaning and is easier to say than Dwayne Johnson.
In the world of naming churches it seems there has been some exceptions to the idea that a name should be both easy to say and convey some meaning. While Berachah, Gloria Dei and Fount of Life are loaded with meaning, I would hardly label them real tongue rollers. Anyone on the street can guess what a guy named “Hulk Hogan” will look like (minus the precut shirt) or what a drink called “Amp” is all about. Would we say the same for most churches? Emmanuel? Mount Zion? Bethesda? St. Andrews? Probably not so much.
The real challenge is not coming up with something original, but instead trying to find a balance. Our previous mission was named Light of Life Lutheran based on Jesus’ words in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We lived in a place that rained 300 days a year and the gospel brings both life and light. I think it had solid meaning, it was likable, not too trendy (this pitfall is often avoided by using something from the 2000 year old Bible), however Light of Life was a bit difficult to say, especially on the phone. Couple that with “Pastor Oldenburg” and I often wished for a DJ name after phoning in an order to Staples. However, if we were to do it again, I think we would still name the church Light of Life.
In the end a name is just a name and it is the person that matters. Former pro wrestler Dwayne Johnson wrestled as “The Rock,” started acting as “The Rock” then it became Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, now in his last film he dropped the “The Rock” altogether. I guess when enough people know the person an easy to say- meaningful stage name is not necessary.
In the end it is just a name–and it is the person, or in the case of a church, the people that matter most. When you read “Mike” you think of a person, not a name. When you hear “Zion” or “Christ our Redeemer” or even “Salem,” I am guessing these are more people than places for you. You picture the people, their attitudes, their actions. I pray, that whatever our name, the world will see people–people who follow Jesus and live His Love.
Church Name Examples and Below Suggestions for the Castle Rock Mission
Great Meaning/Hard to say –Emmanuel, Berachah, Sola Scriptura, Missio Dei, Petra, Justification, Epiphany, Divinity-Divine Charity, Gloria Dei-Bethesda
Easy to say/not as much meaning outside of the church world–Mount Zion, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, St. Andrews (or any saint), Mars Hill
Easy to Say and Meaning–The Rock, The Journey, Living Savior, King of Kings, Hope, New Life, Faith
Easy to Say/Not as much meaning–The City, The Village, The Core, Parker Community, Saddleback, Willow Creek
Castle Rock Mission name suggestions we have received:
Foundation, Word of Life, The Root, New Hope, Life Bridge, Landmark, The Well, Messiah, The Son, Christ, Son Rise, Front Range, The Kingdom of God, Missio Dei, King of Kings, The River, River of Life, Light of Day, Light of Life, Mountain View, Prince of Peace, Grace, Amazing Grace, Living Stone, Castle Rock Lutheran, Grace Point(e), Crosspoint, Crossroads, Cross Rock, Crosslink, Cross of Christ, Christ Our Rock, Redemption, Redeemer, Restoration…do you have other suggestions you want to add?