Revelations: What's in a name?
If you grew up in the South like I did, you've probably met more than a handful of those traditional, proper Southerners who attend those traditional, proper Southern churches.
It seems the further you move away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the more likely it is to meet all kinds of proper ladies and gents who attend First Baptist, First Methodist, First Presbyterian, First (enter denomination here) churches.
And let's not forget all the St. (enter saint's name here) churches: St. Mark's, St. Mary's, St. Luke's, St. Michael's, St. Peter's - you get the idea.
I have nothing against these church names, of course, and even attended a St. Paul's Presbyterian at one point in my life.
But it occurred to me last week, when I received a call about a new Victoria church, The Master's House, that I started thinking about all the church startups around the nation that are launching with atypical names.
Why are all these churches straying from church-like, traditional names and adopting more catchy, come-hither identifiers?
Right here in town, there is Rushing Wind and Renegade Church. There's House of Bread Church and Cowboy Church. There's Sportsman's Church and Parkway Church. Faith Family, Life Impact, Covenant Life Center and LifePointe Fellowship - and those are just the few uniquely named congregations that come to mind at this very moment.
What is it, I wonder, that encourages a nontraditional naming of a church? And If I were to start a new church in Victoria and name it First (something) of Victoria, would anyone come?
Traditionalists might argue that church as we know it in the West has substituted centuries of reverence for oversized projector screens, live bands and headset microphones.
Those same folks may also claim that church names should pay homage to Holy Scripture, rather than promoting a pastor's generational bent.
But for me, what these catchy church names indicate is that God remains relevant in our lives today.
And he's needed and wanted so much, in fact, that we attempt to modernize him in whatever way our creative little minds allow, rather than letting the power of the gospel collect in the history books of our forefathers.
So I'm all right with these new and unusual names for church as long as the message is genuine, and God is at the helm.
Go ahead, churches; add a little rock 'n' roll riff to "Amazing Grace." And pastors, use those iPads and Bible apps to preach to the masses.
If God is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow, then we must be ready to keep moving forward.
It's not only practical - it's also quite proper.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.