Changing Our Church Name

We will have a church-wide business meeting on July 4 to vote on changing our church’s name. We’re proposing that the church name be changed in Korean from “Seoul Baptist Church of Houston” to “Houston-Seoul Church” (the name sounds strange in English, but makes sense in Korean). The English name will remain “Seoul Baptist Church of Houston”. The reason for the proposal is to help pastors of churches who are considering switching from traditional churches to house churches.

The vast majority of churches in Korea belong to Presbyterian denominations. When pastors of those churches try to convert their churches to house churches, many elders are opposed to it, saying that house churches are a Baptist system, not fit for Presbyterian churches. I don’t expect that removing the word “Baptist” from our church’s name will change many elders’ minds, but I would like for us to do our utmost in every way to help pastors who desire to build house churches.

There has been a recent trend where churches do not include their denominational affiliation in their church names. This is especially true for growing churches. The renowned Saddleback Church is one example; their church name does not include its affiliation to the Southern Baptist Convention.

When I first came to Seoul Baptist, I wondered why the word “Seoul” was in the church name. I thought that the founding pastor might have pastored a church with the same name in Seoul, Korea. I learned that this was not the case, and honestly, I’m still puzzled about the naming our church.

Some of our deacons must have similar questions. When I proposed the name change, some deacons suggested that our church adopt an entirely different name, one that includes the phrase “house church” in it. But our current name is well known and already appears in many books, magazines, seminary dissertations, and videos. A drastic name change will cause a lot of confusion. I think that changing our name to “Houston-Seoul Church” is enough.

If this proposal passes, the name will officially change on September 1, 2007. I’m asking all ministry leaders to identify places that require name changes and to be ready so that the new name appears everywhere on that day.

It is not a trivial matter to change a church’s name. It’s costly to change the church marquee, bulletins, church letterheads, church certificates, office forms, etc. But it’s a sacrifice we should make to help other churches to convert to house churches.

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