When to Change the Name of Your Church

I’ve been reading Dr. Matt Pinson’s opening letter in the beautifully-printed Free Will Baptist Bible College Annual Report: 2011. He makes a compelling case for changing the name of our denominational school to Welch College. Part of his reasoning, rightfully stated, is the fact that some of the terms like “Free Will Baptist” and “Bible” will create barriers to our missionary enterprise. According to a survey conducted earlier this year, 70 percent agree with changing the school’s name to Welch College. Among alumni who support the college financially, the number is 85 percent.

I underlined one sentence in the report, because it’s what I have been saying for years:

A name change does not indicate a move away from our denomination.

–Free Will Baptist Bible College 2011 Annual Report, p. 4.

That’s a very important statement. If it is true for us corporately (as a college) it is true for us individually (as churches). I’m grateful for the freedom we have in our denomination to exercise autonomy on this issue, and for our college in leading the way. Denominational loyalty isn’t demonstrated by a sign in the yard but by theological, evangelistic, and financial commitment to our cause.