Have you ever had a mundane conversation that left you unsettled, in a good way? I’ve just had one of those.
It was about a friend coming to stay at our house, and the planned days happened to coincide with the same days of the week we regularly have three or four others staying. I was naturally reluctant as I didn’t want the house to be too full.
Since the 70s we’ve been called Jesus Fellowship. On April 7th 1987 we took on Jesus Army as our second, parallel identity, a public brand under which we’d reach out to the UK for Jesus. This post is all about names.
Why do names matter? Names shape culture and values, they help form first impressions. Choosing a good name for a church is no quick fix to changing a culture, but what organisations choose to call themselves carries weight both in gathering members around a vision and communicating to outsiders.
The comedy troupe Monty Python once performed a sketch called The Four Yorkshiremen. Four old rich gents sit on a fancy veranda, puffing cigars. One after another they start telling stories about how difficult their upbringings were, each story more ludicrous than the last. Finally, the fourth Yorkie finishes his story with the crowning phrase “And you try and tell the young people of today that, they won’t believe you!”
There’s a book that was written back in the 50s by a guy called Richard Niebuhr, called “Christ and Culture”. It mentions the importance of every church understanding what the outside culture’s attitude is towards the church. He looks at different ‘seasons’ that churches go through.
What is the greatest force on earth today? I would say it is culture. Culture has the greatest impact. When you read in the papers about lists of the most influential people in the world, they’re talking about people who carry the authority to influence and shape culture. When ideas meet with humanity, they create culture.