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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

How the other half lives II

Speaking of weird stuff in the American Evangelical world. . . a word must be added about the bizarre things churches get named these days.

Not too far down from the best gyros in St. Louis, for example, is "the gathering" (like e.e. cummings, get it? Too cool for capitals). This always sounds like a horror movie to me. In the next town over is Mosaic - which is meant to appeal, if I decipher the adverts correctly, to people who listen to NPR and wear squarish black framed glasses.

In the Evangelicalized wing of the Missouri Synod you can find both 1C (which means whatever you want it to mean. I am not making this up: "Often the name of a church isn't personal. 1C can mean: 1Creator, 1Christ, 1Counselor, 1Creed, 1st Commandment, 1Church...Determine what 1C means to you! It always prompts a question." Um, yes it does.) and C2.

But the weirdest, oddest, awkward-Midwestiest has got to be the iWorshipCenter. From the pastor's bio: "Mac or PC? PC (also iPad and iPhone)." Right.

I admit, there is a bit of the rubbernecker fascination in this for me. I find it hard to stifle a laugh every time I head up to Springfield and pass the iWorshipCenter. But that is a failing in me. This is a real phenomenon among real live Christians, so I do not want to slip into mean-spiritedness. I have larger theological fish to fry with most of the churches above - let them call themselves what they like. It does me no harm.

But to those of my own tradition going after this fad I do mean to express my honest bewilderment and perhaps point out something that they may not be thinking about: when you seek to draw people in with a certain sort of panache you are also unwittingly seeking to push people out. That is, the demographics game is a two edged sword. There is a sort of person who will be intrigued by a church name that sounds like an app or that intentionally means nothing. And then again, there will be people who find it all rather silly - at the very least, fads change. One must admit, I think, that Mosaic, Epic, C2, etc., will probably sound a little more dated than "St. Matthew's" another decade or two down the road.

But whatever. Like I said, call your church whatever you want. Indeed, this is rather helpful. It makes it easier to find an LCMS church in the town you'll be vacationing in this summer. If it is named for a letter, number, or sounds like it might be a hip sushi bar, they probably won't be dishing out the Lutheran Mass.

Pr. H. R.9 Comments