In January 2012, Stephen and I began a journey to plant a church in an urban part of Ft. Worth, Texas called “West Seventh.” You can learn more about our church planting vision here. This endeavor began with Stephen developing a prayer list of 10 specific, bold prayers that we felt were essential for this church plant.
Number 8 on the list was a name for the church: “Pray that God will give us a name for the church that captures the heart and vision of the church and connects with our target audience.” By “target audience,” we mean the area where God has called us to serve. At the time we felt this prayer would come naturally and easily…we had no idea it would take 6 months!
Being a research nerd at heart, we decided to begin the process by examining how other churches developed their name. Unfortunately, there is little information published, but the few articles and blogs we found provided some great information to start with:
1. The Word “Church” – We wanted to have the word “Church” in our name. This was something that the research showed us as imperative. People like to know what type of business/industry/facility they are visiting. No reason to leave people wondering what is going on inside your building.
2. Geography – We did not want to be land-locked geographically to an area. We needed a name that would tie in with the greater community and allow us to relocate in the future without changing our name.
3. Avoiding Fads – We had to avoid cheesy, popular names of the moment. Although there are some great name ideas, we had been in youth ministry for 11 years and knew we did not want a name that would sound like a youth group. In addition, we hoped for a name that would last beyond our tenure.
4. Web & Social Media Dilemmas – We had to make sure Facebook, Twitter, website .com, .net or .org, and other social media names were available. For some names this was easy, for others not so much.
5. Short & Catchy – The name needed to be short and catchy – in other words “brandable”. I know we are not Starbucks or Apple, but having a short, concise, and catchy name makes it so much easier to develop a logo and signage and to communicate the name.
Our next step was to research names of healthy urban churches across the country. It was exciting to see so many churches doing what we hoped to do in Ft. Worth. I loved how many of the churches used the city’s culture or an unusual biblical reference to inspire their name.
This part of the research helped us funnel down our next step in the name. We really liked two words “city” and “urban” and wondered how we could use one of them in the church’s name? Urban is a great word and is being redefined in many parts of society, but after polling the word to different generations and researching urban logo designs, we really felt the word “City” would be a better fit. So now we had “City” and “Church”, but we still needed the hook word, that would help drive our vision.
Over the next few weeks, we would pray, toss out ideas, pray some more, toss out more ideas, research more, but unfortunately, we hit a wall and nothing felt right. I had a friend share with me that the right name would “feel like giving birth.” You would know it deep down and it would resonate with the church.
Late one evening in June, Stephen and I were sitting in bed with our laptops (nothing like church planter office hours) and we had been researching for over two hours. I remember the evening so clearly. Stephen was looking down when he quietly said “City Church”, “Seven City Church”. When he said this, I could feel it and sense it in my spirit…that was the name! For the next few days we mulled over it and shared it with friends.
We were so excited – God had answered our prayer perfectly! Our vision is to see cities transformed by inspiring community and influencing culture. The word “Seven” captured our vision so clearly:
1. It helped tie us to the greater community that the church is located in without land locking us for future growth.
2. Seven means complete and perfect – our prayer is for Ft. Worth to be a complete and whole city.
3. There are 7 areas of culture we pray to influence – business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and the social sector.
You can learn more about our vision for 7 City Church at www.7citychurch.com. Check out our Facebook and Twitter links too. And if you’re another church planter trying to find the right name for your church, hopefully our journey will be an encouragement to you.
This post was written by Karen Blandino. You can follow Karen on Twitter here or check out her Facebook page here.