Removing or Omitting "Baptist" From Your Church Name

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Zenas, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Zenas

    Zenas
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    This just came up on another thread. We know many Baptist churches are removing "Baptist" from their name and start-up Baptist churches are more often than not omitting "Baptist" from their name. I would like those who have been involved in such a decision to respond here. Surely it has to do with making your church a place where people are more likely to visit and join.

    But why? Do Baptists have a bad reputation? In some respects I think they do. But isn't it dishonest to put up a sign that says, for example, "Abundant Life Fellowship" and then when visitors decide to join we tell them, "Oh, by the way, we are Baptists"? How do you deal with the duplicity?

    In a larger sense, we need to decide whether being known as Baptist is a badge of honor or a badge of shame. If it is the latter, shouldn't we be about correcting our image?
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    It is deceitful. Period.
     
  3. StefanM

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    I have no problem with it. In some communities "Baptist" is synonymous with "crazy."

    And it is not deceitful, as long as the church is honest about its affiliations. Saddleback, in particular, clearly identifies their Baptist affiliations in their new members classes. You won't join without knowing they are Baptist.

    Besides, other denominations immerse, too. There are so many varieties of Baptists that the term essentially only means that it is a local autonomous body that practices non-salvific believer's baptism by immersion.

    It is no more deceitful for a church to remove Baptist from its name than it is for a church not to put another point of doctrine or practice on its sign.

    Otherwise, you'd end up with the "First 5-point Calvinist, Covenantalist, Amillennial, Church discipline-practicing, Baptist Church."
     
  4. guitarpreacher

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    So y ou tell me Zenas, exactly what pertinant information are we withholding from prospects by not putting the word Baptist in our name? I'd really like to know exactly what Baptist means. I know, it must be eternal security. But wait, there's a General Baptist church in town that believes we can lose our salvation.

    So it must be about ordinances. We believe there are two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper. Nope, that can't be it because there is a Free Will Baptist church in town that believes foot washing is also an ordinance.

    Is it that we believe Jesus died for everyone and we choose to either accept or reject his offer of salvation? That can't be it because more and more Baptist people are becoming Calvanist and believe that God picks and chooses who he will save.

    So, I'm at a real loss as to what exactly it is that we are hiding from people. Please enlighten me.
     
  5. Zenas

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    So you're saying the name "Baptist" is too generic. Perhaps, but in my neck of the woods there are only two brands of Baptists--SBC and IFB--and these believe pretty much the same thing. The IFB's are a little more toward the fundamentalist side and have a higher level of independence than SBC. But to attend a worship service, you wouldn't know the difference. Nevertheless, you would definitely know you are not in a Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, etc.

    I sense that you are suggesting a nondenominational name is less misleading than using the name "Baptist." This is really a stretch and I don't think many on this board would agree with you. If you drive by "Abundant Life Fellowship" you have no idea whether they are charismatics, break away Episcopalians, pentacostals, closet Baptists or just plain nondenominational.

    So, guitarpreacher, I'm not going to accept your proposition that putting "Baptist" in your church name creates confusion. I'm not as negative about taking it out of your name as some, Revmitchell for instance, but I really want to know what you have to gain by taking it out and most of all why you think so.
     
  6. Salty

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    Interesting you mention Free Will Baptists. On another form, I started a thread about FWB.

    One posted said "They were once part of the methodist church. They believed in immersion and disagreed with the methodist polity, so they broke from the methodist church retaining the Armenian theology but adopting the baptist polity and practicing immersion. Thus, Freewill (Armenian) Baptist. I was raised in the Freewill denomination. I could not support the belief that one could lose one's salvation with the scriptures, so God led me the SBC. They did teach me a love for the Word and an evangelistic and a passion that is still a part of my Christian experience. Oh, that was another reason they broke with the methodists, too stuffy in their liturgy."

    So are the FWB really Baptists or IFM (Independent Fundemantal Methodist"

    Yes, I do judge a book by its cover. The name is very important.

    In fact some "churches" should rename themselves from Gospel Baptist Church
    to Gospel Social Club


    Salty
     
  7. jdlongmire

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    Because of the absolute congregational autonomy of the SBC and other Baptist churches - the appellation "Baptist" really means nothing except "full immersion credo-baptism practiced here".
     
    #7 jdlongmire, Jun 21, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2008
  8. donnA

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    If I'm going to visit a church how am I to know if it is baptist or not if it refuses to identify itself as such?
    Why would a baptist church not want to be identified as baptist? If it's for the purpose of getting people to come in, then they've hidden the truth from them, they have lied.
    There distinctives that set a baptist churches apart from other denoms. Other denoms have some of these distinctives, but no other church has all the distinctives that a true baptist church is to have.
     
  9. jdlongmire

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    Again - considering that each church is autonomous - define what a "true baptist church" is and who determines and enforces the definition.
     
  10. donnA

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    There are doctrines that make up the distinctive baptist church.
    No one enforces it, but without these doctrines they aren't a real baptist church. It is up to the average person to chose carefully when chosing a church to amke sure their 'baptist' church actually is baptist.
     
  11. Zenas

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    OK, nine replies and only one answer to my questions in the OP. StefanM says,
    That's one possibility. Does anyone have any others?
     
  12. annsni

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    Because they are not affiliated with any "Baptist" organization. We have Baptist in the name of our own church but I know of other churches that we are close to that have removed the name "Baptist" because, honestly, they're not "Baptist" churches as in being SBC or other group.

    In looking for churches when we're away, we're not just going to look at "Baptist" churches because twice so far, they've been a bust. Both times there were practices that we completely disagree with and are fundamentals so were not what we would have thought "Baptist" should have been. If a church is "community" or "chapel" or something like that, we'll still look at it because we know people who have started churches with these names or know of good solid churches with these names. So we're not hung up on the "Baptist" name.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    For better or worse, removing 'Baptist' from your church's name is a marketing strategy.

    When you ask the question, "How can we attract people to our church?", you are saying "we have to develop a marketing strategy."

    Sometimes the answer comes back, we must eliminate any barriers, we must be seen as friendly, relevant and comfortable.

    How you implement those goals is your marketing strategy. TV ads, fancy websites, newspaper promotions, the works. Actually, nothing wrong with them.

    But ya' know, some folks have in their minds that Baptists are narrow-minded, exclusivist, puritanical. They're dull and use all those old hymns. We're not like that, so why don't we do something bold and original. Such as, eliminate Baptist from our name, call ourselves Community Church, or Worship Center or something like that. We'll still be Baptist but we just won't tell anybody.

    So, what else would you include in your marketing strategy? Further, what, if anything, is off limits? What are you NOT willing to do to attract people to your church? I mean the things that are guaranteed to get a crowd, but you place them off-limits for one reason or another.
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Oh, are there any of you who are like me? That is, you know of Baptist churches that you wish would PLEEEEEZE take the name Baptist off your sign?
     
  15. gb93433

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    If the church had a sign that named Baptist would you know if they are saved? When I lived on the west coast yopu would be amazed at the number of people who called themselves a Baptist who were not saved.

    What do you think of the time when Dr. Dilday was fired from SWBTS and the trustees lied about some things to the press? Does that reprent the kind of Baptist you are? A few years ago an architect who was a non-believer called me to ask if I would finish his home because he was being cheated the contractor. The contractor taught Sunday School and was a leader in a local church. Does that represent the Baptist name.

    So which brand of Baptist are you? Would the sign on the door tell you if they are honest or liars? Would the name Baptist tell you what they believed among the many many different brands of Baptist churches?

    I pastored an SBC church years ago that the state and local convention knew about that had a practice for over 25 years of allowing the local Mormon bishop to preach at local events the church sponsored all in the name of fairness. When I put a stop to it they came against me. They also were in the habit of adding about 25 to the attendance so it would look good. I thought the numbers seemed inflated and so I counted the people one Sunday. When I confronted the deacons they told me that if they did not it would look like the attendance would go down. I told them to just let it go down then. Would the name First Baptist Church clearly identify their practices to you and what they really believed?

    Do you really believe there are no liars and false teachers in Baptist churches which have the name Baptist on their sign? Does Baptist Press always tell the truth without an exaggeration?

    It may be that those who have gone before them called themselves Baptist and lied about what a genuine Baptist looks like. You can go to a website where the greatest number of fomer pastors who are pedophiles are listed. The greatest number are listed as Baptist.

    If Baptists did not have a retirement plan a lot of things would probably end.
     
  16. guitarpreacher

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    Please elaborate. What are the doctrines that are guaranteed by the word Baptist in a name?
     
  17. donnA

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    Yes. I was told, via email, by a pastor of a church we were visiting last year that they didn't want to be bound by a name or association as baptist. Meaning they may want to incorporate soemthing into their church doctrines thats maybe not baptist. After attending a few more times and trying our best to dig out what info we could to try and determine what they beleived there we found a few things not quite right, and not baptist. They may as well remove baptist from their name as they don't want to be baptist, they want what they want.
     
  18. blackbird

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    I don't have to tell anyone that I'm a Baptist-----they can figure it out by the way I preach!!!

    I once told a Pentacostal buddy of mine----"Dude!! If I weren't a Baptist---I'd be ashamed!!!!!!!!"

    On the lighter side----doing away with the word---Baptist----would be like McDonald's doing away with the Golden Arches----just not the same without 'um!!!!:laugh:

    But, no----I'm not ashamed of being a Baptist---And I can market my church the same and be as successful with the name there as visual identification as any of the best who have felt the need to drop the name

    I mean---why would any church go to any extreme to drop the word Baptist----but yet will preach the same Baptist doctrine as I do---I'm a Baptist because of the doctrine I stand for and receive---and if anyone doesn't stand up for somethin'----will fall for anything!!!!
     
  19. guitarpreacher

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    I'm not saying it's confusing at all. In fact, if you care enough to seek a Baptist church, then you probably already know the finer nuances of each "brand" of Baptist, and don't give it much thought. Instead of being confusing, I'm saying that it with the exception of baptism by immersion, it really doesn't mean anything.

    I can only answer your question as it pertains to us, and there's two parts to the answer. First of all, I don't give a flip about making more baptist. I'm out to make sold out disciples of Jesus Christ. Now, I happen to believe that if I do that, they'll be Baptist. In the past year I have led to Christ and baptized 3 Catholics and one lady who was raised Church of Christ. It's very doubtful that any one of these folks would have come to CrossPointe Baptist Church, but they did come to CrossPointe Church.

    The second part of the answer is this - If someone is looking for a Baptist church, it's probably just as well for us that they don't visit us. We set out to build a church by winning the lost, not by transfering members from other churches. It may sound harsh, but if a person has been a part of a Baptist church and they are leaving because they are unhappy there, we're pretty sure we don't want them. So when someone grabs the phone book and starts looking for the next Baptist church they can be a problem at, we'd just as soon they'd pass right over us.

    One more story to try to help make the point. There was a lady that came to our church right after we launched. She accepted Christ but I never did get to baptized her (military family and they transfered out) After she had been coming for 2 or 3 months, she came to church one Sunday morning almost in tears. She said that she figured out we were Baptist and was very upset. The reason? She liked to have a glass of wine occasionally with her evening meal. All she knew about Baptist was that we were all teetotalers and that we would not tolarate anyone consuming alcohol. She was upset because she had fallen in love with us and with our church, and most importantly, with the Savior we worshipped, and now she just knew that we were going to show her to the door. The fact is, what she thought she knew about Baptist was completely wrong. She was litterally amazed to find out that while I as pastor believe in abstaining from alcohol, we would allow her the liberty to disagree or the grace to give her time to come to see our point of view. She left us and joined a Baptist church in Virginia Beach, VA. I believe that her conversion was real and I also know for a fact, because she told me so, that she would have never set foot in our church if the word Baptist was in the name.

    So if you're all about attracting Baptist, hang the name out there, but that's not what we're about.
     
  20. gb93433

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    I do know from many years ago that I did not like their cardboard tasting hamburgers so when I see the arches I know not to get hamburgers there.
     

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