Friday, May 22, 2009

Church Name Guide (Silly)

Do you ever wonder what the theology of a local church is? Use this easy to follow guide. You can determine the theology of any church without stepping through its doors. Look for the following words:

Abundant: Pentecostal
Harvest: Pentecostal
Life: Pentecostal
Sovereign: Calvinist
Grace: Calvinist
Reformed: Calvinist
Our Lady: Catholic
Saint (obscure name): Catholic
Saint (name you recognize): Episcopal
Damascus: Orthodox
Shalom: Extra Liberal
Missionary: Arminian
Free Will: Arminian
Trinity: Lutheran
Messiah: Lutheran
First: Baptist
Berean: Baptist

Certain common names are considered crossover, and can signify any theology. Here are some typical ones:

Baptist: Could be anything, don't visit without doing your homework.
Bethel: low church, nice people, safe to visit.
Community: Very common name, tells you jack squat.
Evangelical: Protestant, beyond that your guess is as good as mine.
Church of God: Could be anything, don't visit without doing your homework.
Church of Christ: Could be anything, be safe and leave your guitar at home.

What about odd combination names? Like Sovereign Trinity Church of God. It seems impossible and overwhelming to decrypt such a name. However, with practice you can parse even difficult names. Remember the following guidelines:
  • Combination names are often redundant. Examples: Abundant Life, First Baptist, Sovereign Grace.
  • Combination names occasionally denote a very specific theology. Example: Sovereign Harvest Church (Calvinist and Pentecostal, a rarity).
  • "Sovereign" is a trump word, and always refers to Calvinists, this is helpful to remember when you see it in combiniation with cross over words. Example: Sovereign Evangelical Baptist.
  • "Sovereign" comes first when used in a combination. This is true even if "First" is also in the name. Example: Sovereign First Baptist Church.
  • "Damascus" is also a trump word and always refers to Orthodox. Example: Saint John of Damascus (You might easily mistake this for an Episcopal Church, but you would be wrong)
  • Certain name combinations are highly improbable. Examples: Harvest Messiah, Sovereign Missionary, Saint Spong, Shalom Trinity.

Other Interesting Facts:

  • If the name is "Mars Hill", it's a mega church with a pastor that swears.
  • If the church has a private school, it is Lutheran or Catholic. The bigger the school, the more likely Catholic. If the private school name is "Yeshiva", this is not a church at all. It also means that you live in a North Eastern city. If the private school name is "Madrassa", this is not a church either.
  • There are lots of "First" churches, but very few "Second" ones.
  • The names "Berean" and "Bethel" are becoming less common, because no one knows what they mean.
  • If a church changes its name, the new name will always have the words "community" and/or "fellowship" in it. The new name will never refer to the sponsoring denomination. Example: "Bethel Assembly of God" becomes "Harvest Community Fellowship"
  • If the church service starts at a strange time (like 9:07 AM), this indicates an attempt to appeal to post moderns. If you are on vacation and like lattes, this is a good church to visit. The service will be brief, it's safe to show up in casual clothes, and you have an excuse if come at the wrong time. Warning: the pastor swears.
  • Don't always assume that the church is Episcopal simply because you recognize the name of the saint. It could be an obscure Catholic saint. Examples: Saint John, Saint Joseph. It's probably not the saint you think.

8 comments:

Jc_Freak: said...

Ha ha!

jbush7777 said...

Also note that St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is NOT a combination of two different theologies. ;-)(From an actual example).

Pizza Man said...

Excellent point Jbush. :)

bossmanham said...

Haha very nice.

Tony-Allen said...

Popular Orthodox names are also any event that represent mystical parts of our Lord's life :) Popular ones I've noticed are Transfiguration, Annunciation, etc, ha ha.

Also, a friend and I are always making jokes about churches that name themselves after Corinth - why would you name yourself after the church that had the most growing pains?!

Pizza Man said...

Hi Tony, Thanks for the insights. I haven't seen a lot of Orthodox church to get a good feel for their names, so the guide was lacking a little there.

I agree on Corinth, an obviously better name would be Berean, but the guide rules that out. :)

New Wineskins said...

I think it is also true that 99.98% of St. Paul churches are Lutheran! :) It might be more like 99.99%

Pizza Man said...

Hi New Wineskins,

Your right! There are a lot of Saint Paul Lutheran churches. I've also seen Saint Andrew and John. Actually, the "common saint" Episcopal rule applies pretty well to Lutherans too. Another common one I've seen is Immanuel Lutheran.