The Baptist Name in Church Planting!

I believe that most people on SI are probably Baptist by Belief and would whole heatedly consider themselves Baptists. They attend Baptist churches and they have in their church a constitution framed around the Baptist Distintives. My question is without the purpose of causing a stir, but rather to think of the effectiveness of church names. What would you put on your church sign at the end of the day if you were planting a church? Would you put your church name as _________ Baptist Church or would you put it as something else. Also having the understanding that your doctrinal statement will be focused in a sense of God's Word and of course those Baptist distinctives.

Has the name of Baptist lost its respect? And would it be more effective to call your new ministry something else (ie. _________ Community Church, etc.)

Please if you could include why you would or would not put the title Baptist as your new church name?

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Jim's picture

I think the "legacy" denominational names have great value. We have Presbyterians on S/I and for Presbyterians I think that name communicates a lot.

Baptist as well. (I'm a Baptist)

My preference:

  • Avoid obscure names as modifiers: Eg "Berean", "Zion", "Antioch" (unless you are in Antioch OH), "Sardis", "Beulah" etc
  • I would not use "Corinth" in a church name unless one's locale is Corinth (Maine or Mississippi)
  • Avoid the use of "Tabernacle", "Temple", or "Chapel"
  • "Grace" is somewhat overused in a Church name. (Google "Grace Baptist Church" for proof!). Same with "Bible Baptist". There must be hundreds of Bible Baptist churches!
  • Avoid "Fundamental", "Independent", "KJVO", "KJV 1611" etc in the name. ("ESV" is OK ... like "ESV Baptist Church" ( Wink joking really!)
  • A street name or place name as an adjectival modifier is positive. (Unless your church is on http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Devil%27s+Ba... ]Devil's Backbone or some other evil sounding street name) (The GARBC will never allow Devil's Backbone Baptist Church into their fellowship! )
  • If you have street name in your church name; if you move, change your name!
  • If you are going to have "Friendly" in your name ... you'd better be!
Charlie's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
I think the "legacy" denominational names have great value. We have Presbyterians on S/I and for Presbyterians I think that name communicates a lot.

Actually, there are some conservative Presbyterians who eschew the title "Presbyterian" because many people translate that as "female pastor." Most still use it, but are really interested in what initials follow (OPC, PCA, EPC, PCUSA, RPCNA, etc.). On the other hand, there is something about independent church polity that militates against the usefulness of the name "Baptist." Whereas "Presbyterian" supposedly has reference to a specific sort of doctrine, polity, and worship outlined in the Westminster Confession, the word "Baptist" does not even pretend to communicate any such specificity. Since Baptists are by nature independent, all it means is, "We don't wet babies." That's hardly a helpful identifier.

So, unless your church is going to identify with some kind of association or pseudo-denomination (GARBC, SBC, etc.), I don't really see the usefulness of the name "Baptist." It implies a commonality that, frankly, doesn't exist.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Charlie's picture

Jim Peet wrote:

The Baptist "brand" still has value.

What value? Words like "Roman Catholic" and "Anglican," though they in actuality vary from the norm, still have some meaning because they refer to a greater historic reality. If you ask me what a Roman Catholic church is like, I probably can't answer with absolute certainty, but I can point to the official documents of the Roman Church which supposedly regulate the churches. With Anglicans, I can point to the 39 articles. With non-liberal Presbyterians, I can point to the WCF and the Three Forms of Unity.

All of these are only possible because the words "Catholic" and "Presbyterian" refer to groups of people who formally acknowledge one another. Since Baptists are by definition independent, there is no comparable parallel. You could point to, say, the London Baptist Confession, but that document is not universally accepted by Baptists. If you reject it, it does not affect your "Baptistness" in the way that a rejection of the Westminster Standards would affect one's "Presbyterianness." Because of independent church polity, the word Baptist can't mean anything other than "we are independent and don't wet babies." At the most, an association of Baptists like the ARBCA could take on some elements of similarity which would provide a sameness across churches, but that would only be incidental and would not actually reflect anything about the term "Baptist."

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Dennis Clemons's picture

Some wonderful additions to a new church would never join unless it said "Baptist" on the sign. These people are often tremendous foundational workhorses in a new ministry.

On the other hand, the name will keep away many who don't understand what it really means because of what they think it means. Those are often very reachable and teachable people that could be influenced greatly for God's glory if we had the opportunity to teach them.

"Baptist" hasn't meant much to the average person since, oh about the end of the 19th Century. And not using the name doesn't change the truth we proclaim. So I lean towards not using it.

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

dmicah's picture

Baptist polity is going the way of the dinosaur.

Senior Pastor - The Man, Assistant pastors - The Minions, Deacon Board - Rubber Stampers, Inner Deacon Board - Power Brokers, Trustees - Puppet Masters, Congregation - The Voters . Of course, I am being a little facetious, but not far off the truth for many churches. This system is dying out and its name should as well. Holding to baptistic distinctives is fine since they are in general agreement with biblical fundamentals, but promoting the name itself as a brand could actually be a detrimental and obsolete message domestically or internationally.

Rachel L.'s picture

If someone called the church and asked, "What denomination is your church?" and the without-a-pause answer would be "Baptist," then I think Baptist should be in the name.

Jim's picture

dmicah wrote:
Baptist polity is going the way of the dinosaur.

Senior Pastor - The Man, Assistant pastors - The Minions, Deacon Board - Rubber Stampers, Inner Deacon Board - Power Brokers, Trustees - Puppet Masters, Congregation - The Voters . Of course, I am being a little facetious, but not far off the truth for many churches. This system is dying out and its name should as well. Holding to baptistic distinctives is fine since they are in general agreement with biblical fundamentals, but promoting the name itself as a brand could actually be a detrimental and obsolete message domestically or internationally.

A Caricature or hyperbole of Baptist polity: Feel free to do this - you apparently are not a baptist - fine by me.

But your quote above does not accurately reflect Baptist polity. And of course you admit that - "I am being a little facetious, but not far off the truth for many churches".

Baptist churches have problems because people are sinners and Christians struggle to obey the Word of God. But the same could be said for others as well.

By the way, Baptist polity leaves room for multiple elders!

As for whether Baptists are "going the way of the dinosaur"; could be as I do not know the future. I'm not married to the name Baptist (I once Pastored Moorestown Bible Church), but there's a lot positive about the rich Baptist heritage and history.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Most of the religious Suzy Homemakers and Joe Sixpacks I've talked to about denominational labels equate the word 'Baptist' with immersion and eternal security, along with hellfire and damnation preaching, or 'Bible thumping'. Now, if you ask Dr. Samuel J. Snodgrass about the word 'Baptist', you might get a 40,000 word thesis in reply, but most folks who move into a new town or decide to look for a church don't know any more about church history than they do quantum mechanics, and are going to want something on the door that tells them whether or not a church fits into their is worth a visit. 'Baptist' is less ambiguous than 'Bible', 'Community', or 'Fellowship' etc... and IMO bears enough history and meaning that I wouldn't give it up unless it became so thoroughly marked by heresy or immorality as to be past redemption.

Anne Sokol's picture

we don't use "baptist" in our church name--i don't know of any baptist church here that does.

one reason is because "baptist" is looked on as a sect here-- like mormons, JWs, 7th-day adventists-- and during communism, propaganda was spread that "baptists" drink blood, sacrifice their children, and such, so the word has baggage.

you porbaly need to ask around/take a poll at the place/culture where the church will be Biggrin

dmicah's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
dmicah wrote:
Baptist polity is going the way of the dinosaur.

Senior Pastor - The Man, Assistant pastors - The Minions, Deacon Board - Rubber Stampers, Inner Deacon Board - Power Brokers, Trustees - Puppet Masters, Congregation - The Voters . Of course, I am being a little facetious, but not far off the truth for many churches. This system is dying out and its name should as well. Holding to baptistic distinctives is fine since they are in general agreement with biblical fundamentals, but promoting the name itself as a brand could actually be a detrimental and obsolete message domestically or internationally.

A Caricature or hyperbole of Baptist polity: Feel free to do this - you apparently are not a baptist - fine by me.

But your quote above does not accurately reflect Baptist polity. And of course you admit that - "I am being a little facetious, but not far off the truth for many churches".

Baptist churches have problems because people are sinners and Christians struggle to obey the Word of God. But the same could be said for others as well.

By the way, Baptist polity leaves room for multiple elders!

As for whether Baptists are "going the way of the dinosaur"; could be as I do not know the future. I'm not married to the name Baptist (I once Pastored Moorestown Bible Church), but there's a lot positive about the rich Baptist heritage and history.

I am a recovering baptist. The vast majority of independent baptist churches could be caricatured in such a semi-humorous manner. Of course, all churches have their own problems. I am just weighing in on using the name. I do think in general the future of historical baptist churches is not rosy. The independent fundamental baptist churches are not adjusting to the culture in general and many do not adjust to the demographic shifts surrounding their churches. The median ages of the members/attenders is rising. Unfortunately, "rich Baptist heritage" is not that important to the next generation.

The only elder led baptist churches I know are southern baptist, though I am not questioning that some others might exist.
I am not here to slam baptists, I am telling you the facts of the matter on the future of the independent fundamental baptist churches that many of us grew up in.

Greg Long's picture

Charlie wrote:
Jim Peet wrote:

The Baptist "brand" still has value.

What value? Words like "Roman Catholic" and "Anglican," though they in actuality vary from the norm, still have some meaning because they refer to a greater historic reality. If you ask me what a Roman Catholic church is like, I probably can't answer with absolute certainty, but I can point to the official documents of the Roman Church which supposedly regulate the churches. With Anglicans, I can point to the 39 articles. With non-liberal Presbyterians, I can point to the WCF and the Three Forms of Unity.

All of these are only possible because the words "Catholic" and "Presbyterian" refer to groups of people who formally acknowledge one another. Since Baptists are by definition independent, there is no comparable parallel. You could point to, say, the London Baptist Confession, but that document is not universally accepted by Baptists. If you reject it, it does not affect your "Baptistness" in the way that a rejection of the Westminster Standards would affect one's "Presbyterianness." Because of independent church polity, the word Baptist can't mean anything other than "we are independent and don't wet babies." At the most, an association of Baptists like the ARBCA could take on some elements of similarity which would provide a sameness across churches, but that would only be incidental and would not actually reflect anything about the term "Baptist."

Charlie, I'm really not following you.

"Baptist" refers to a common set of beliefs. Do all Baptist churches believe exactly the same thing? Of course not, any more than all Presbyterian churches believe exactly the same thing--as you yourself admitted.

I'm not sure why you impose the requirement of the necessity of having a "group of people who formally acknowledge one another."

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Andrew Comings's picture

Here in Brazil our association is known as Regular Baptist (Batista Regular). The word "regular" in common-usage Portuguese means somewhere between good and bad--mediocre. I don't know if that usage has come into effect since the association was founded back in the '50s, but I frequently have to explain it to people who wonder why we would advertise ourselves as being "mediocre".

When I plant a church I'm not sure I want to go through that hassle...

Missionary in Brazil, author of "The Astonishing Adventures of Missionary Max" Online at: http://www.comingstobrazil.com http://cadernoteologico.wordpress.com

Charlie's picture

Greg Long wrote:
Charlie, I'm really not following you.

"Baptist" refers to a common set of beliefs. Do all Baptist churches believe exactly the same thing? Of course not, any more than all Presbyterian churches believe exactly the same thing--as you yourself admitted.

I'm not sure why you impose the requirement of the necessity of having a "group of people who formally acknowledge one another."

Let me try this way. If you ask me, "What is Presbyterian doctrine?" I can point to the WCF and 3FU. A Presbyterian may differ from the WCF, but his deviation would not be "Presbyterian belief." There is a normative definition rooted in a corporate historic reality. Baptists, as independents, have no such parallel. Apart from anti-pedobaptism and perhaps the autonomy of the local church, any other congruency among Baptists is accidental rather than normative, definitional, or essential.

So if a Presbyterian believes in Arminianism, his "Presbyterianness" is diminished to that extent. But if a Baptist does, his "Baptistness" is unaffected. Historical similarities are not the same as normative or regulative similarities. Now, sub-groups of Baptists may achieve more normative congruency. For example, if a GARBC church started teaching covenant theology, their GARBC-ness is diminished, but their Baptistness is not.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jim's picture

Charlie wrote:
Let me try this way. If you ask me, "What is Presbyterian doctrine?" I can point to the WCF and 3FU. A Presbyterian may differ from the WCF, but his deviation would not be "Presbyterian belief." There is a normative definition rooted in a corporate historic reality. Baptists, as independents, have no such parallel. Apart from anti-pedobaptism and perhaps the autonomy of the local church, any other congruency among Baptists is accidental rather than normative, definitional, or essential.

So if a Presbyterian believes in Arminianism, his "Presbyterianness" is diminished to that extent. But if a Baptist does, his "Baptistness" is unaffected. Historical similarities are not the same as normative or regulative similarities. Now, sub-groups of Baptists may achieve more normative congruency. For example, if a GARBC church started teaching covenant theology, their GARBC-ness is diminished, but their Baptistness is not.

Of course Baptists are not a homogeneous / monolithic group. I think the same could be said of Presbyterians. You have fringe beliefs at the edges. You have Calvinistic Baptists and Arminian Baptists. You have Dispensational and non-Dispensational Baptists. You even have some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church ]Wacko Baptists that most Baptists don't regard as Baptists!

But for Baptists, the Baptist name still has meaning and value.

Charlie's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Charlie wrote:
Let me try this way. If you ask me, "What is Presbyterian doctrine?" I can point to the WCF and 3FU. A Presbyterian may differ from the WCF, but his deviation would not be "Presbyterian belief." There is a normative definition rooted in a corporate historic reality. Baptists, as independents, have no such parallel. Apart from anti-pedobaptism and perhaps the autonomy of the local church, any other congruency among Baptists is accidental rather than normative, definitional, or essential.

So if a Presbyterian believes in Arminianism, his "Presbyterianness" is diminished to that extent. But if a Baptist does, his "Baptistness" is unaffected. Historical similarities are not the same as normative or regulative similarities. Now, sub-groups of Baptists may achieve more normative congruency. For example, if a GARBC church started teaching covenant theology, their GARBC-ness is diminished, but their Baptistness is not.

Of course Baptists are not a homogeneous / monolithic group. I think the same could be said of Presbyterians. You have fringe beliefs at the edges. You have Calvinistic Baptists and Arminian Baptists. You have Dispensational and non-Dispensational Baptists. You even have some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church ]Wacko Baptists that most Baptists don't regard as Baptists!

But for Baptists, the Baptist name still has meaning and value.

Jim, I understand what you're saying here. Baptists have history; they have fantastic theologians; they have confessional documents. I have read all of those men and documents (except the SBC one). What Baptists never had is unity. Not one of those confessions you listed is broadly binding on Baptists. Some of them are almost defunct. If you violate 12 points of the London Baptist Confession (not including baptism), does that make you less Baptist? Does the Free Will Baptists rejection of the Calvinism in the London, Philadelphia, and NH Confessions make them less Baptist? That's my point. No one "owns" Baptist in the same way that the Pope owns Roman Catholicism and that the WCF regulates Presbyterianism. That's why the brand analogy doesn't make sense to me. Who is the brand manager? That's just the price you pay for being independent, autonomous churches. In avoiding denominationalism, each church is a denomination unto itself.

Now, to the extent that any Baptist churches engage in connectionalism, the "normativity" of that group can be established. So, even while I think "Baptist" by itself means next to nothing, "Reformed Baptist" is fairly well demarcated, as is "Free Will Baptist" or even "Regular Baptist."

Here's the litmus test: If a church calls itself Baptist and identifies itself in the evangelical (as opposed to liberal) theological tradition, what can you say with 90% certainty about it?

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jim's picture

Charlie wrote:
That's my point. No one "owns" Baptist in the same way that the Pope owns Roman Catholicism and that the WCF regulates Presbyterianism. That's why the brand analogy doesn't make sense to me. Who is the brand manager?

Good point about the "no brand manager". I said the same earlier in this thread

Jim Peet wrote:
The Baptist name is essentially a "Brand"

By essentially I mean the name functions like a brand. Someone moves to a community, they are a Baptist, and they are looking for a church. They look up "Baptist" in the Yellow pages or Google "Baptist + their town". It's a start. They may be disappointed and either drive further or find a Bible church, etc.

If there were a brand manager (a Baptist "Pope" if you will), that one would revoke the Westboro Baptist franchise! Smile

In IT talk, Baptist is "open source" versus "proprietary". Some see it as a weakness, some view it as a strength.

There are Baptist churches whose door I would not darken (the KJVOnly, the Pastor-dictator style, the liberal, etc). Would you allow that Presbyterians have the same issue. I'm sure you would repudiate the ministry of a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sloane_Coffin ]William Sloane Coffin or other liberal Presbyterians.

By the way I have some favorite Presbyterians: http://www.ccel.org/h/hodge/ Charles Hodge , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Breckinridge_Warfield ]B B Warfield , http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/ Jonathan Edwards , and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Gresham_Machen ]John Gresham Machen .

Jim's picture

As a Freshman in College (University of Cincinnati, 1967), I had to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinners_in_the_Hands_of_an_Angry_God ]Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God as an assignment in an American Literature class. Imagine that .... 200 years after his death, that message brought deep and lasting conviction in my life. It angered and terrified me! Two years later I was saved.

Another favorite = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Schaeffer ]Francis A. Schaeffer

Jim's picture

Back to the original post - which was "The Baptist name in Church planting".

I think one must ask the question, "What does the name Baptist mean in the culture and milieu of the targeted plant.?"

The name Baptist certainly has http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church ]a negative connotation in Topeka KS . It's possible that in much of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10/40_Window ]10/40 Window , the name Baptist may not communicate effectively.

From another perspective - of the one who invests (specifically gives money to) in a ministry: Being a Baptist, I personally am more likely to give to a Baptist school - say http://www.faith.edu/ Faith in Ankeny than to a school that is not Baptist.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I used to be strongly against use of "Baptist" in a church name for various reasons... not in the Bible, bad "baptist" churches, potential alienation of folks who would otherwise check us out, adolescent need for something cooler than what I grew up with, etc.
Slowly my thinking has mostly changed. I think in some situations I would probably try to avoid it as a church plant.... or even an existing church. But mostly now I don't think there's usually any big reason to avoid it.

Mainly my thinking has shifted along these lines: what sorts of things really keep people from visiting or becoming faithful members of my church (or any sound church called "Baptist")? If I'm honest, I have to admit that the name of the church is way, way down the list. It's really things like

  1. Being a lost sinner
  2. Being much more interested in a feel-good experience (vs. what they will get at God-centered, gospel preaching, whole-counsel teaching church)
  3. Being uninterested in church in general (overlaps #1 most likely)
  4. Being committed to preserving a family heritage ("We've always been Lutheran, back six generations!").
  5. Preference for something closer to home
  6. Desire for big ministry with lots of exciting programs (to some degree, overlaps #2)

    I think it takes a while to get to a person who avoids us "because they're Baptist" without items 1-6 being bigger factors first.

    So, it doesn't seem to me like much for the Spirit to overcome in drawing someone to us... if indeed it's something to "overcome" at all.

Ben Howard's picture

I can see this both ways. I think that, like Aaron said, most lost people don't care about a church name; and personally I believe that if the church members are reaching out to their friends and neighbors and community the way they should, the church will be reaching the community for Christ no matter what the name. For an example, look at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City where Tim Keller pastors. They are PCA, put Presbyterian in their name, have a fairly traditional service and simple Presbyterian order of worship, and are difficult to find (at least for me as a non- New Yorker, it seemed somewhat hidden to find the college auditorium it meets in!), but yet they have reached large numbers of unchurched in NYC.

On the other hand, I have tried or am familiar with many of the Baptist churches in San Diego county here in California, and I could not bring myself to join any of them. I am in a SBC church plant that does not put Baptist in the name. The churches my wife and I looked at were either KJVO types, or very southern USA feeling churches. While that may attract a lot of transplants from the Southeast, it does nothing to reach the local community population. Other churches that had locals in them were very old, and very white, in an area that has large numbers of people of hispanic heritage (who do speak English as their primary language), as well as other diverse cultural groups.

I do think even among those who have some cultural knowledge of Baptist churches, such as those who grew up in the southeast, with a Baptist church on every corner, that the younger generation generally views Baptists as shoutin' screamin' Bible thumpers, and have basically written off anyone who would describe their beliefs as Baptist. On numerous occasions after spending a lot of time counseling an individual and/or explaining scripture to them, then they ask what "church" I am a part of, and I say "Baptist" or "Southern Baptist", I get the same reaction that they cannot believe that I wasn't preaching at them and berating them with hellfire and brimstone sermons or getting upset with them over their language or the fact that they drink alcohol. I'm sure most of us on here would probably share the gospel in the same pointed but loving way; but for some reason that is not the reputation of the name "Baptist". If they would have known I was a Baptist pastor, I would never have gotten a hearing.

This may sound like I'm contradicting myself, but I also believe that if a church is Baptist and doesn't use the name, they should clearly reflect that in their literature and website. I am specifically thinking of this because of some issues that I am having to wrestle with in a Southern Baptist context. Someone may come to your church, and give you a hearing because you don't have Baptist in your name, but if you are affiliated with the SBC (or GARBC, IFCA etc.), in my opinion, at least by the time the person is considering church membership, the person should know clearly that he/she is joining a church of that denomination. If letting them know in a prospective member's guide or church information brochure your affiliation keeps them from coming back, then the problem is not your church name.

Hope these random thoughts make sense!

Brandon King's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Back to the original post - which was "The Baptist name in Church planting".

I think one must ask the question, "What does the name Baptist mean in the culture and milieu of the targeted plant.?"

The name Baptist certainly has http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church ]a negative connotation in Topeka KS . It's possible that in much of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10/40_Window ]10/40 Window , the name Baptist may not communicate effectively.

From another perspective - of the one who invests (specifically gives money to) in a ministry: Being a Baptist, I personally am more likely to give to a Baptist school - say http://www.faith.edu/ Faith in Ankeny than to a school that is not Baptist.

Just started church in Concord, NC. Crossview Baptist Church. I think your points on name and place of where you plant are important. In the south it is a identifier. In our area, there are many assembly of God churches and Community churches. If you go the Bible church route or the non-denominational route people wont have an idea what kind of church you are. In planting the church, i scoped out by visiting all the non denominational churches in the area.These ranged from "The Fire church (Brownsville Revial Church, UC Fellowship (Andy Stanley church plant), Cornerstone Church (4 square gospel out of Charleston), Rocky River Community (Follower of Journey Church movement). What I am getting at is the brand is important otherwise the non churched or the churched do not know what they are going to attend, which could mean they wont attend your church at all.

Jay's picture

I think that if I were to plant a church up here in the state of New York, that I'd avoid "Baptist" in the church name and do something like ______________ Bible Church. I'm Baptistic by conviction, but the priority for the church would be to proclaim the Bible, and there are a lot of misconceptions and unnecessary luggage that comes with the "Baptist Brand" up here. There are also some differences in how I'd want the church to be governed as opposed to the standard Baptist polity.

If I were planting a church in Georgia, that would probably change my opinion somewhat.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Stephen Schwenke's picture

I think we are overplaying the culture/location card. I lived in Topeka, KS where Fred Phelps and his extremist church is. There were several Baptist churches throughout the city that were doing quite well despite having the same nametag. Everyone in Topeka - and I mean everyone - knew that he was a kook, plain and simple. So the only ones that presumed the Phelps represented ALL Baptists were the extreme on the opposite side - all out reprobates who rejected the Bible and Christianity wholesale.
Anne, there is a missionary in Kiev named Perry Demopolous who has been in the Ukraine since 1995 or so - he is Baptist, and he has started many Baptist churches in the villages throughout Ukraine. His "homebase" is a Baptist church right there in Kiev.
After reading some Baptist history recently, I have come to realize how important that name is. Baptism is a watershed issue ( Wink , and it has been for several hundred years. WE have lost sight of that because our political freedom. However, it distinguishes us from all other denominations. Also, the name Baptist is the name given to us by our enemies (the Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, etc.). I am sticking with it. There are a handful of good Bible churches that I am familiar with, but very few. They generally tend to Covenant Theology, and generally tend to more liberal views of separation (at least in my experience.)
There are some countries that I am unsure of regarding the use of the name, but I have not heard from any of the missionaries that I follow an issue with using the name Baptist. These missionaries cover the entire globe. It is no different here - ON OCCASION (very rarely) I must distinguish our independent Baptist church from the ABA, SBC, GARBC, etc. No big deal...

In Christ,

Pastor Steve Schwenke
Liberty Baptist Church
Amarillo, TX

Rob Fall's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
we don't use "baptist" in our church name--i don't know of any baptist church here that does.

one reason is because "baptist" is looked on as a sect here-- like mormons, JWs, 7th-day adventists-- and during communism, propaganda was spread that "baptists" drink blood, sacrifice their children, and such, so the word has baggage.

you porbaly need to ask around/take a poll at the place/culture where the church will be Biggrin

If you and yours are anything like my wife's family and the folks we work with, you call your meeting place a house of prayer (from the verse in Isaiah). To my limited knowledge, the Council of Evangelical Christian-Baptist Churches International (the insitivnikis) still uses the discriptive "Baptist".

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

David Little's picture

It is interesting that when so many churches started using "community church" that the world thought it must be a new denomination. Most people living in the USA either grew up in or attend a denominational church. I have never heard anyone say something negative about the name of their church. I've heard a ton of criticism based on what happened in the church. If a church should change their name it would be the Catholic church with all the sex scandals and etc. I haven't heard any talk about changing the name.
Because of my ministry with Baptist Church Planters, I travel extensively. I get into all kinds of Baptist churches. I can tell you that churches grow, not based on their location, name, music or culture. They grow when they have a true shepherd in leadership who knows what God wants done and can lead people to serve.
Someone referred to this in another blog, but when starting a church, there are often good and godly people looking for a Baptist church to attend. These key people can be extremely helpful to the church planter. In this day when pastors are unethically taking established churches and turning them upside down, telling the faithful saints to leave if they don't like it, these dear souls will be looking for a solid Baptist church to attend.
If I were going to put anything on the sign or in advertising other than the name, I'd put "expository preaching" or "clear Bible teaching." I get all kinds of people that have been in good expository preaching churches and then move to another location begging to plant a church where they can be fed. Starting with a verse and saying all kinds of good things but having nothing to do with the text is famine for the person who knows the difference. These people beg for a good church and having the name Baptist on it provides some measure of identification.
At Baptist Church Planters, we require church planters to start churches with the name Baptist in them. We are not ashamed of those who gave their lives for beliefs clearly taught in the scriptures and we believe that Baptist churches who choose to support Baptist missionaries expect them to plant a Baptist church.

David Little

Rev Karl's picture

I have been a member of four different independent Baptist churches: minister of music in two of them. I am ordained in an independent Baptist church. But...

I grew up in an "independent, fundamental, non-denominational" church. I have been a part of two Bible churches. My personal identity is not based on being a Baptist, but on being a believer in Christ.

In the past I have been quite disturbed when people presented themselves in such a way that their identification as a Baptist superseded their identification as a born again child of God. (It does not happen all the time, everywhere, but when it does, it is disturbing.)

Because of the way I was reared, and the Scriptural training I received prior to being thrown into the Deep South, the fact that a church is a "Baptist" church does not even enter into my consideration of whether or not I should attend. I look for careful handling of the Word, doctrinal soundness, an atmosphere of love (John 13:35)... oh, and BTW, what denomination is this church?

Of course, this is not a problem specific to the use of the name "Baptist". When a church identifies itself as the user of a particular, specific version of the Bible even before they identify themselves a born again believers, I sense a problem. When a church identifies its strong and growing ministry to young people before they identify themselves as Bible believing Christians... you get the idea.

As for the name on the sign: there are two churches on the same road here in Panama City, one a recent church plant, the other a long established ministry. The new church goes by the name Northstar. The long established church recently changed its name to Emerald Coast Fellowship. Both are SBC churches which have chosen *not* to put the name "Baptist" (or keep the name "Baptist") on their primary public identifiers. If the BAPTISTS don't want to be identified as Baptists...

Just my own opinions and observations. Not meant to support or oppose any previously posted comments.

If I ever plant a church, maybe I'll call it the 1st Non-Aligned Campfire Bible Study. I could set that up a few miles down the road from Pastor Tetreau's church. Smile

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

David Little wrote:

Someone referred to this in another blog, but when starting a church, there are often good and godly people looking for a Baptist church to attend. These key people can be extremely helpful to the church planter. In this day when pastors are unethically taking established churches and turning them upside down, telling the faithful saints to leave if they don't like it, these dear souls will be looking for a solid Baptist church to attend.

Sorry, but "Baptist" is not what defines a good church. In our area you can attend various Baptist churches that stand for anything, including women pastors or gay marriage. The name Baptist is not an indicator that the church will be a solid, biblical church. You need to know more, whether it is a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Community, Bible, or whatever kind of church. (And yes, there are fundamental, bible-believing, expository preaching churches of all of those stripes.)

Quote:
If I were going to put anything on the sign or in advertising other than the name, I'd put "expository preaching" or "clear Bible teaching." I get all kinds of people that have been in good expository preaching churches and then move to another location begging to plant a church where they can be fed. Starting with a verse and saying all kinds of good things but having nothing to do with the text is famine for the person who knows the difference.

Bingo. This is right on the money. Of course, it has nothing to do with the name "Baptist."

Quote:

At Baptist Church Planters, we require church planters to start churches with the name Baptist in them. We are not ashamed of those who gave their lives for beliefs clearly taught in the scriptures and we believe that Baptist churches who choose to support Baptist missionaries expect them to plant a Baptist church.

I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ either, and the Bible itself noted where believers began to identify themselves as Christians. But even though I currently attend a Baptist church, I would not give my life for the name Baptist (or any other name that identifies me with something "more" than being a Christian, or follower of Christ).

I can rejoice with you that you expect your church planters to follow biblical teachings, but if your emphasis is on "Baptist" rather than Bible, I believe it to be completely misplaced.

Dave Barnhart

David Little's picture

I wouldn't think of substituting the name Baptist for biblical truth. I personally chose to pastor Baptist Churches because my beliefs were closest to those of Baptist persuasion. In most cases, biblical truth is synonymous with Baptist theological tradition. There is nothing magic in a name, but it surely helps people looking for a church that already have an understanding of the scriptures. Just yesterday, I was visiting with a missionary who is in the southern part of the USA and he said that he was having a difficult time finding a church. He mentioned that he wished Pastors would make it clear on their websites what they were all about. Most Baptist Churches use the same "Statement of Faith" but their emphasis is not the same. Some chose to emphasis translations, other style of music, while others expositional preaching. So, just because it has a Baptist name doesn't make it a "cut and dried matter." But imagine knowing what the churches by these names hold to- His Church, Day Spring, Golden Corner, Solid Rock, and etc.
But my biggest issue in this name thing is the driving motive. Jesus didn't say, "Go into the world and plant churches." If He did, and if our motive is to draw a crowd, than I could envision using a "catchy name." But since Jesus said, "Go into the world and make disciples," the crowd issue is out the door and the person discipling isn't worried whether the follower will be attracted to the name because the greater goal is seeing them drawn to Christ. Only after disciples are following do we bring them together into a church planting mission.

David Little

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