As a church we’re changing our name, and introducing a new vision statement and a new mission statement, and also a new logo and artwork
Why make a change at all?
The Coign has been our name and identity for many years – first as The Coign fellowship and then as The Coign Church – and during those years God has hugely blessed this church. Lots of good stuff has happened, so let’s be quick to honour the past and let’s be thankful to God.
That said, the idea of changing the name has been well received and even expected. My predecessor, Malcolm Kayes, told me he planned to change the name when the new building was completed, and that was hoped to be a while ago!
Of course, whilst no name is perfect, a good name can be a great tool for us to connect with the culture around us. It can be even better if we have a name that reflects the culture of our church too; a name that communicates to people about who we are and helps to draw people in.
Choosing a name has been a long process. It began with a Listening Tour in our church, conducted during September to November 2017, shortly after I arrived. During the Listening Tour I asked four key questons:
- What is one thing I need to know about the church?
- What is one way we will reach new people?
- What is one dream you have for the church?
- What is one thing you are afraid I might do?
Those questions gave everyone a chance to speak into the process, albeit without knowing it, and they were hugely informative, after all – we need a name that reflects our intended culture and our aspirations.
We then engaged the help of Paul Graves from seeseven.com. He’s a branding specialist, and a pastor in a church in Seattle. He’s also a friend of one of our trustees and originates from Basingstoke – so he’s as British as fish and chips! Working with Paul, we drew together a small and diverse team to look at the whole area of branding and naming.
Focus Groups and Seeking God
Along the way, Paul conducted a series of eight Focus Groups with us, which included all sorts of people from across the whole spectrum of the church and also included people from outside our church; people from local politics, from church leadership and from the volunteer sector too. We were looking for “quality of data” rather than “quantity of input” at that stage, which meant that not everyone could be involved, although everyone had already had a chance to input during the Listening Tour.
The focus groups gave great insight into how we are currently viewed as a church, some of the challenges we face, and also the aspirations we hold for ourselves, and out of all that data we began to recognise a simple clear contender for the new name … it actually came really easily.
At the same time, as a team, we were praying and asking God to speak prophetically, and we believe He has many times: to us as individuals, to and through Paul Graves, through prophetic contributions in meetings, through the focus groups, through wisdom and a sense of peace, and in prayer meetings too.
Making the call
So in the end, as an Eldership Team, we reached a decision on the name, and it was honestly a very easy call to make; we were simply confirming a unanimous sense of what everyone involved in the project believed God was saying to us.
So we’re changing the name of our church to: “Welcome Church”
The first Sunday under our new name will be Sunday 20th May, and between now and then we have some work to do to change a lot of things! The change is not now a secret, but we’re planning the publicity to start from May 14th onwards.
Incidentally, if you wonder where you’ve heard the name before, it’s the same name that Graham and Kimberley Allen, sent out from our church, gave to the church they planted in Austin Texas. Although our choice of name and our whole process was completely independent from that. I’ve spoken to Graham and he’s very pleased.
More than a name
Our new name is more than just a name; it’s something that reflects our whole culture, identity and purpose.
Let’s remember why we exist: we’re not here for our own benefit; the church has a mission! We exist to make disciples of all nations! We exist to serve this town and to reach out in love to people with the good news of Jesus.
That’s why we’ve come up with a new ‘strapline’ to go with our name, a strapline that captures some of the essence of the culture and message we want to communicate to people: “It matters that you’re here”
Jesus has a purpose for each of our lives. Every person is precious to God. It matters that YOU exist; it matters that you’re here!
Jesus has a purpose for our church too, and that purpose is not about us being warm and comfortable in a nicely ordered church meeting! There are thousands of people in Woking who God is calling us to serve and reach out to with his love and grace, and we’ve hardly begun. We each have a part to play; it matters that you’re here.
A new vision
In my next blog I’ll talk about our new vision statement and our new mission statement, but that’s enough information for one blog!