Leadership Transition and New Name for Michigan Association

"Doug Crawford is now executive ministry director. ...The MARBC is now called Bridge Fellowship." - GARBC

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Don Johnson's picture

I guess it's none of my business, groups can call themselves whatever they want.

But I wonder what effect this name change will have. It seems to be focused internally, as in all those involved will understand what it means. But outsiders will wonder, "what is a 'Bridge Fellowship'?" To which the answer will be, "Well, its all the Regular Baptist Churches in Michigan"

Which begs the question, why change your name to something that requires explanation?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding the name change, it could be meaningless marketing--a name change to catch the ear and maybe make the group seem more appealing--or it could be running away from some institutional sins for which the "old name" is known.  A great portion of the time, when a Baptist church foregoes the name "Baptist", it's the latter.

I've got no idea which it is for "Bridge", but if it's the latter, the major step should be repentance, not name change.  

(edit: one thing to add, to be fair, is that a certain number of Baptists have foregone the name not because of the sins of their church per se, but rather because others have stunk up the name, e.g. the KJVO/Trail of Blood crowd)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

For the general public (other than a big local scandal) I don't think "Baptist" (or any other denominational label) is any more offensive than "Christian" or "Church"

Mostly the anxiety is within the circle, where you are trying to be attractional to already professing Christians. I guess if your ambition is to catch church-hoppers, that's a strategy.

I doubt a "softer" name does anything to make a church of interest to lost people.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Steve Newman's picture

Now the churches need to decide "which side of the bridge" they are on spiritually, besides the Yoopers being north of the bridge and the "trolls" being south of the bridge!

Bert Perry's picture

A good example of the toxicity of the name "Baptist" in many circles is that I've seen a few times when a pentacostal pastor goes bad (Pat Robertson for example), people address his case and assume he's a Baptist.  Also of note is that where I grew up, a church called "Fairhaven Baptist Church" made a stench of itself in my community to the point where people openly commented on people being "deprogrammed" after having been there.

No doubt that a good portion of the objection to the name exists within the fundagelical bubble, and another portion off the matter is that it is indeed Baptists who tend to do evangelism (or at least used to) and thus anyone who did evangelism tends to get characterized as a Baptist.  

But that said, there's also a portion where the Baptist name gets sullied by sinful behavior, things like rulesism/legalism, KJVO arguments, and the like.  And that's where those who change the name really need to ask themselves why.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

For the general public (other than a big local scandal) I don't think "Baptist" (or any other denominational label) is any more offensive than "Christian" or "Church"

I agree.  To me "Bridge" just sounds like a contemporary "next fad" name.  It speaks nothing to the association.  This is a bit weird.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Living in Grand Rapids, I happen to be part of the MARBC, now called the Bridge Fellowship.  I find it very amusing that the overall assumption that they changed their name was to make it less offensive to the general public. Rather, It's much, much harder to explain MARBC, the Why, Who, What they do using the old acronym MARBC than with the updated name, which utilizes a word picture of a Bridge, which naturally explains why they exist (to be a bridge to each other and the community in Christ (my paraphrase) Its all about clarity and the MARBC acronym name gave none. It never did.  Its not a fad, but rather a name that better explains their mission. 

Don Johnson's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

Living in Grand Rapids, I happen to be part of the MARBC, now called the Bridge Fellowship.  I find it very amusing that the overall assumption that they changed their name was to make it less offensive to the general public. Rather, It's much, much harder to explain MARBC, the Why, Who, What they do using the old acronym MARBC than with the updated name, which utilizes a word picture of a Bridge, which naturally explains why they exist (to be a bridge to each other and the community in Christ (my paraphrase) Its all about clarity and the MARBC acronym name gave none. It never did.  Its not a fad, but rather a name that better explains their mission. 

Really? Explains it better to whom? 

I can get how MARBC is opaque, maybe the full name is better. And I don't think there is anything sacrosanct about the name MARBC.

But I bet if you took the logo of the "Bridge Fellowship" and showed it to people on the street and asked them to tell you what it meant, you would get a wide range of answers. I doubt it better explains anything.

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joel Shaffer's picture

Why would we be trying to explain it to the average person on the street? Its about clarity for the people within the 200 or so churches of the fellowship that matters. Over the past 30 or so years, I've been part of 3 churches that were part of the MARBC, and the majority of people from these churches didn't know what it meant, even when the pastor attempted to explain its purpose. Whether we like it or not, we live in an "Amusing Ourselves To Death" culture on steroids where word pictures (such as a bridge) do more to help explain and connect than an old acronym like MARBC.  

 

 

Don Johnson's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

Why would we be trying to explain it to the average person on the street? Its about clarity for the people within the 200 or so churches of the fellowship that matters. Over the past 30 or so years, I've been part of 3 churches that were part of the MARBC, and the majority of people from these churches didn't know what it meant, even when the pastor attempted to explain its purpose. Whether we like it or not, we live in an "Amusing Ourselves To Death" culture on steroids where word pictures (such as a bridge) do more to help explain and connect than an old acronym like MARBC.  

How does "Bridge Fellowship" explain anything internally? Do you think it means much to "the majority of the people from these churches"?

I grant that an acronym by itself may be opaque. But if you say Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches, it seems to me that the name defines itself. "We are a regular Baptist church in Michigan associated with other regular Baptist churches in Michigan."  -- how hard is that?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3