“We’ve come to join!” said the young Iranian as he cheerfully burst into the tiny training room at the Coventry Jesus Centre followed by three other young guys. Somewhat startled, we women (six of us) looked up from our Bibles and hurriedly put out extra chairs for our unexpected arrivals. It was 2014.
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.
Northampton Jesus Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary in December 2014. What have we learned along the way that has seen us through to this point?
Early on we discovered that where you think you’re going when you start isn’t where you end up but in it all God gets you exactly where He needs you to be in order to bring Him the glory.
We need vision. It’s easy to see what’s wrong about a church if you’re around for a while, and we’ve been facing up to a lot of that over recent years. It’s also easy to point the finger at people who may seem to be slacking or backsliding, and blame them for failures.
Community works when we enjoy spending time together. This means we aren’t always hiving off to our bedrooms but perhaps sitting downstairs and reading a book. We need to make meal times a focal point of sharing our hearts and enjoying each other, switching off from the business of other things and giving time to build relationships and family.
What does it mean to ‘own the vision’?
Does it mean we do what’s always been done or from time to time does God want to bring something new to us? And does that mean the original vision was wrong or that God is fickle and has changed His mind? Do difficulties mean that God’s stopped blessing us or can they be opportunities to grab our attention and communicate the new direction or vision?