Sunday, July 08, 2007

Using the word "church" in your name

Recently on the email list for International Unitarian Universalists, there has been a reprise of that issue about the word "church" in the name of religious bodies. Here is my post:

"Interesting that among the growing "emergent/organic" movement across the globe within Christianity, the word "church" is rarely found in terms of local gatherings and groups; the de-churched and the unchurched are turned off by it and what expectations it holds. For one small list of these you might check out the communities section on the website, http://www.theooze.com/; this movement is primarily in North America, Australia and the U.K. Of course not using the word church is also consistent for them since they are also different in many ways from what people born before 1963 often think of in the default mode when they hear the word "church." (what I meant by that is that there isn't a single building, single worship, single organization, perhaps not single leader called minister, single time they meet; the point isn't to gather as spectators at worship service, etc.)

The typical Unitarian/Universalist "church" might be theologically different from the norm for the word church, but in all other ways it usually is still presenting itself as a church the way churches did in the 1950s, 1800s, and before. Perhaps the most important point for the emergent/organic movement, as opposed to U/U churches, is that being a part of Christianity the movement stresses the ecumenical, even calling itself post-protestant, and so there is only one "the church", what might have been thought of before as the church universal or the Body of Christ, and so this frees the local gathering and group to call itself by any number of things without feeling the necessity of adding the word "church" to it; U/U churches on the other hand, if they don't particularly see themselves in such an ecumenical light, tend to place strong importance on that word "church", whether they are in favor of it or opposed to it. "