While preparing and planning to plant a new church community in Whitby the last few years, I stumbled upon a name and and idea. For almost a year before our church community (The Village) went public, we actually called ourselves Blank Church.
There were a few reasons why we did this:
– We were too young to give ourselves a name
– We were discovering who we were and therefore waited to fully attach a name
– As we journeyed forward, we came to realize that it was catchy, inviting and very approachable
What we came to realize in this process is no matter what name is on, or connected to, a local church, we’re all ‘_______’ until others name us. You can give yourselves a name and an identity – you can even come up with values and statements, but the truth is, others will tell you who you are. Our name will be connected to how we live, to what we do, to how we express love and compassion. So no matter what name is on your business card, people will call you ‘loving’ or ‘kind’ or ‘accepting’ or ‘welcoming’ or ‘graceful’ or ‘Christians’. I wrote very briefly about this when the village turned one.
It was in Acts 11, in Antioch, that Christians were first called…well…Christians. They were associated with Christ by the way they lived, the way they loved and the way they sacrificed. The name came later – the transformation came first and gradually continued.
We need to give people a chance to name us before we tell them who we are. I don’t mean you have to stay quiet about faith or about who you follow, but I do hope to connect with people who are asking lots of questions and wondering what faith and church and God can do in and for them. It seems like Blank Church is a good place to start. No assumptions – No preconceived ideas – No expectation to be, only the hope that we are becoming.
So as you read this blog (and I hope you do), I hope it inspires you (and me, the writer) to venture into a journey of faith, knowing that first steps are crucial, and every other step moves us forward to perhaps putting a name to what it can mean to follow Jesus.
Here’s to filling in the blank(s) together.