A Church By Any Other Name Is A Worship Center …

… Used to be churches were identifiable by their name. St. Virgin Martyr Church and Church of the Most Holy Blood of Christ. Catholic. First Baptist. Main St. Methodist. You get the idea. Then suddenly, as if blown in by the winds of moral vagueness, we started seeing indiscernible nondenominational “worship communities”.

Elevation Church is a popular one around here. Crosswinds Community Center; I can’t tell if this is a church or retirement community. There’s Cross Roads, Freedom House, The Gathering Church, Vertical Church, Impact Church, and my newest favorite… Journey Church. Which of course made my imagination squeal with delight.

A church that plays only Journey music, has fog machines, and does air guitar instead of the sign of peace?! Righteous!

Funny how all these questionable sounding nondenominational worship communities make me think of everything but God. I get the human desire for community and companionship but I don’t go to church looking for human interaction. I go looking for interaction with the Divine. I think these community churches are what happens when people start looking for the parish to fill their social needs over spiritual ones.

Anyway… I still think a Journey Church would be awesome. I just hope their hymnal includes “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Otherwise, what’s the point?

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Kristen

    We have a new one called “Reach” and we have a “Crosswinds” too. Most of the larger evangelical ones like to include the word “community” in their name. Our area’s most populated “Port City Community” and “community” of man is the thing I hear most praised there.

    • Kenneth G. Horne

      There are a number of Roman Catholic Churches in my area that don’t include church in their names, such as St. Timothy Catholic Community and St. Jude Catholic Community, etc.

  • priest’s wife

    locally- we have ‘The City Church’, Goldcoast Community Fellowship, The Plex (yup…)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      The Plex? Yikes.

  • AMoniqueOcampo

    Ugh! My town is home to one of the most notorious churches ever…Lakewood.

  • doughboy

    “I don’t go to church looking for human interaction.” Amen.

  • John J. O’Sullivan

    What I find most interesting regarding pop-American evangelicalism is how works-based they are. The falty arguments used against catholicism—e.g. “them catlicks believe they earn their salvation etc.”—describe their entire theology. If you don’t speak words of faith into your life, you’ll suffer x, y, and zed. God is your “boss,” not your salvation. It all depends upon you. None is gift.

  • Cassidy H.

    I joined a church prior to my conversion called Ecclesia. They didn’t even pronounce the word ecclesia right. They just changed its name to Journey Church apparently. They were just one more “church” that pushed me toward Catholicism.

    • Dillon T. McCameron

      How did they pronounce it?

  • Amy

    A local nondenominational church in our area seems to change its name every two or three years. Until recently it was called the Adventure Church. I was always tempted to stop in and take a peek. I had visions of a climbing wall behind the altar.

  • http://eacafe.blogspot.com/ Oo_oc_oO

    Catholics fortunately aren’t as far gone as some of these extreme examples. But there is still the post-V2 trend to name churches after abstract concepts instead of saints, and refer to themselves as “faith communities” instead of churches or parishes.

    • David Bates

      “…name churches after abstract concepts instead of saints”

      Such as?

      • http://eacafe.blogspot.com/ Oo_oc_oO

        Transfiguration, Resurrection, and Assumption are three I can think of in the area. Could be a lot worse obviously, but I think it’s good for a church to have a patron saint.

        • David Bates

          I’d hardly call those abstract concepts – they’re mysteries of the Faith!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

            I agree.

        • Faithr

          I guess when they called that big church in Constantinople Hagia Sophia back in the year 532 A.D., they were being really modern and naming it after an ‘abstract concept.’

  • Jordan


    Ok, did I made one of those up. But I’m not saying which!

  • Aimee Langan

    We have “Hope Community” – which might not sound like the worst ever, but I love to read their tagline on their signboard: “A Contemporary, Casual Worship Community.” No stuffy ritual for these folks!

  • Donna G

    This is about branding. These “worship centres” are selling a product to people who are shopping around. My new parish priest is trying to “rebrand” our parish to a “worship community” and it’s becoming a bit too much all about us – hate it.

    • kenofken

      Any religion that’s ever fielded a missionary or sought a convert is selling a product to people who are shopping around. I suppose some are more brazen than others.

  • Han Ng

    If I ever have the money to endow a church, I would insist that it be named “The First and Second Finding of the Head of the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John, Baptizer of our Lord Orthodox Church” (Feast day on Feb. 24). This is why God has seen fit to deny me lottery winnings.

    More seriously, it is interesting that you write, “I don’t go to church looking for human interaction,” because that is in fact why many Protestants go to church. I remember once not accepting a court date by explaining to the judge that it was Holy Week. After the hearing, the court clerk asked me, “Where do you fellowship?” It took a me a couple of seconds to realize that she was asking me where I attended church. What we have here, therefore, is an ecclesiology wherein being a Christian does not necessarily involve a Church. I find it weird, you Catholics might find it weird, but yet, to our shame, I have found these Protestants to be, in general, much better than we at being Christians to each other. Perhaps these phenomena are related.

    I do not think Catholics ought to imitate Protestants, but I just want to observe that the Protestants might have an ecclesiological reason (albiet an extremely low church ecclesiology), not simply a marketing reason for the names of their churches.

    • Gail Finke

      good point

  • Ce Gzz

    I went once to a small town nondenominational “church”. This was part of an interaction between Bethlehem Farm youth and other christians. The service was…. WEIRD! Song here and there, lots of hallelujah and amen! a moment to give a very personal interpretation about one Saint Paul letters and MORE SINGING!

    Needless to say I felt empty. Yes it was cute, but when you know the real banquet with the Groom, these fake celebrations are just empty. Will keep on praying for all of them, so one day they too may encounter the Christ in the Eucharist.

  • Dom

    There is one church called “Victory Fellowship”. It actually has a movie theater inside. They also have custom worship service depending on what you want. Such as “Kidz Worship” “Power Hour” or (my favorite) “X-TREME Worship”… It makes me want to gag.

    • kenofken

      I’m gonna say “X-TREME Worship” is a BDSM dungeon of some sort….

  • michicatholic

    You know, Katrina, picking on other people is one way to avoid looking at yourself.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Then you don’t read this blog too often. I’m the favorite butt of my own jokes.

  • Rebecca Duncan

    great title for this post

  • Lydia

    There’s one here near the library called “Trenches.” Just “Trenches.” I don’t even know what it means. When I was at the library with my husband I asked him to drive over nearer so we could see that it really said that. Yup. Is it supposed to mean that we’re all fighting in the trenches together, that there are no atheists in foxholes, or…? That one still baffles me.

    • kenofken

      Trenches are so 20th Century. You should open a competing church called “Directional Boring.”!

  • Britny Fowler

    “there is a kind of code when people talk about their churches. If they say the preaching’s good that means the music stinks. If they say they love the music that means the preacher’s bad… If they say ‘Well I just love it here and nobody judges me and everybody just lets me be who I want to be.’ well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re in a bar!” ~Tim Hawkins Full Range of Motion

    sorry may not be exact but it’s close. thought it was fitting.

    • alwr

      There is a church in my hometown called “Christ’s Place”. My brother insists that he is going to go in there someday and order a beer since that should be the name of a bar, not a church.

  • Anne Cregon Parks

    We had “Church in the NOW”. the preacher was a married homosexual….need I say more??

  • D Minor

    I think I can top these: New Beginning Flowship (sic) Dream Center. Had they not added “Where Jesus is Lord” to the marquee I wouldn’t have had a clue.–Mrs. Dave

    • Billiamo

      “Flowship Dream Center”. Is that like a hyperbaric chamber?

      • D Minor

        I was thinking something along the lines of a sleep clinic. –Mrs. D.

  • Guest

    I was thinking more along the lines of a sleep clinic. –Mrs. D.

  • hotboogers

    We have The Adventure Church. Always makes me wonder as I drive past …

  • MTDave

    Got one here named/titled “Narrate Church”. Which is grammatically off the wall. I still can’t understand what they’re trying to convey by using that phrase. Am I supposed to tell the story of the church? Am I supposed to give direction during worship between acts?

  • Gail Finke

    We’ve got one called LifeSpring, it’s symbol is a leaf.

    • Gail Finke

      One near me used to be called “The Encampment.” I always expected to see rows of Civil War tents outside it. Before that it was called “The KingDOME” because the original building was topped by a geodesic dome. I forget what it’s called now, but the slogan is, “… where it’s all about YOU!” Really.