As a United Methodist pastor, I currently serve two churches. I am beginning my 7th year at Hope Church and my 2nd year at Magnolia Church. This past June, the leadership of our churches took a risk and agreed to start worshipping together in Magnolia (about 8 miles south of Hope’s previous location). There are a lot of reasons that led us to this point (including a lot of Holy Spirit guidance!), but ultimately we believe that we can be better together in worship, discipleship, and outreach that we could be apart. We are working towards a church merger that would birth a new church all together.
Our leaders have been meeting diligently all summer to work towards this end. One of our discussions is on the value of a good name. Looking at our churches, landing on a name that communicates our vision and invites people to learn more about our church may be the largest hurdle we face. But names are very important and should the focus of some great conversation.
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1
“Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Song of Songs 1:3
Just from these two passages we see that a good name and a good reputation is very valuable. It takes a lifetime to build a name, and a minute to destroy it.
That has never been more clear than the Ryan Lochte saga at the 2016 Olympics when it was exposed that he lied about being held up and robbed at gun point. Lochte is a twelve time medalist in the Olympics with endorsement deals from four companies. In one night Lochte’s reputation changed. Now, rather than describing Lochte as a multi-medal winning athlete, we are tempted to think of him in regards to his untrue story and the saga it created.
As we consider the identity of the church that is being birthed in Magnolia, we are reminded that our identity is grounded in the name of Jesus. In Jesus we are no longer slaves, but sons and daughters of the King. We are to live, as Paul reminds us, “Whatever your do, whether in word or dead, do it in the name of God…”