River City Church
On November 8, First Baptist Church voted to officially change our name to River City Church! We are thrilled to move forward with a new name and continue to do the good work God has called us to do. If you would like to read about the name change process, see the information below.
Name Selection Process
The process to arrive at the name River City Church has been intentional and prayerful. We began by getting input from our congregation, and received 119 name suggestions! It was very encouraging to see your creativity and investment in the process. We narrowed those 119 names down to just five so that we could get board feedback about the top five names. We had over 100 people complete the survey and got feedback from people inside the church and outside the church. People who were young and old, urban and suburban, Baptist and not, and everywhere in between.
We believe that God led us through that process to arrive at the name River City Church.
If you would like to read about the process in greater detail, here is an expanded explanation of the process.
Name Change Rationale
The idea of changing our name as a church is not a new one. Over the last 35 years, every vision team and senior pastor of First Baptist has recommended that we change our name. The elders feel now is the time to finish this decades long consideration and believe it’s most helpful for us to accomplish our mission for two reasons.
First, to those outside of our church, our name no longer accurately communicates who we are. Focus group studies of our downtown neighbors revealed that negative, or at best neutral, language is used to describe Baptists - such as white racists, people with strict rules, and a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. Even though we know that is not who we are, they are interpreting our identity based on our name, not our witness. And due to the barrier of our name, we are often not even given the chance to prove their perceptions false.
Whether through anecdotal conversations, focus groups studies, or local and national quantitative studies, there is increasingly clear evidence that our name - as it is - is a hindrance to our mission. As painful as it is to admit, we cannot ignore the reality that it is a barrier. We know it is, but is it a barrier we should knowingly keep? There are foundations to our faith upon which we will not compromise. For example, we will not stop telling people that they need to repent and trust in Jesus as their savior. People may not want to be told to repent. That could be perceived as a barrier. But it is foundational to the gospel. That is not something we will ever change. However, we believe that our name is different. It is not a barrier we should knowingly keep any longer, and if we want to be effective in our mission, we need to be willing to change our name.
Second, we believe that a new name will serve as an important step in our process of renewal as a church. After 85 years of numerical decline, we are entering a new chapter in the story of our church. Over the last year, we have sought to more clearly understand our history and clarify our identity. In our January town hall meeting, many of our members shared that they saw a new name as an opportunity to bring fresh energy and unity as we take a step forward in obedience together. The elders believe that as well. A new name is not just about removing a barrier, but an opportunity to move forward together.
THE NAME SELECTION PROCESS
The elders initially recommended that we begin a name change process in November 2019 and after some initial feedback we had a congregational meeting in January 2020 focused on our potential name change.
PRAYER FOR UNITY AND WISDOM
Throughout the process we have prayed for unity and wisdom. We have encouraged you to be in prayer on your own, and we are grateful for all those who have committed this to prayer. Prior to COVID-19, we also gathered several times before church to pray together. It has been our constant prayer and desire that God’s Spirit would lead us forward together with wisdom and unity.
The input of our congregation has been essential to our process and in January 2020 we began a timeframe for people to suggest potential names, as well as give feedback on the process. Through that Namestorming Phase, our congregation suggested 119 names. The creativity and participation in that process was really encouraging. Thank you to anyone who submitted a name.
NAME NARROWING PHASE
On February 9, we finished taking suggestions and asked an initial group (Name Narrowing Team, Deacon Committee, Elders, and Staff) to score all 119 suggestions from 1-5, which helped us narrow the initial list of 119 to a more reasonable number to discuss within the Name Narrowing Team.
On February 16, a team of 12 met to prayerfully discern a final five to be considered. The team was comprised of Mike Jones, Rick Swanson, Eleanore Allen, Dick Rasmussen, Jenny Deming, Jeff Schaper, Richard LaBorde, Rachael Jolivette, Jeremy Adelman, Carrie Paulson, Alex Baxley, and Dalton Nowicki.
As we narrowed the list of names down to five, we considered which names accurately reflect (1) our identity and vision as a church, (2) which names would be inviting and welcoming to our family, friends and neighbors, (3) which names were pleasing to the ear, and (4) whether there were other churches in town with the same or similar name.
Throughout that process, we believe that God’s Spirit was leading us to arrive at five names in a unified way. It was not easy, and we all felt the weighty responsibility of the task. The five names we considered were Gospel City Church, City Gate Church, Renew Church, Resurrection Church, and River City Church.
NAME FEEDBACK PHASE
In late February we began a process of getting feedback on the five potential names. We conducted two New Name Feedback Meetings and had some very fruit discussions together. We also created an online survey and got feedback from over one-hundred people. The survey participants were both inside and outside our church. We had young and old, urban and suburban, Christian and non-Christian, and overall a good range of perspectives.
Through the feedback and survey, it was clear that River City Church had the most positive feedback overall. For all eight questions we asked River City Church had the most favorable results, and that remained true when we broke the responses down by varying demographic markers as well.
NAME RECOMMENDING PHASE
The elders reached a point where they felt confident recommending River City Church to our congregation as our new name. It is a name that connects to our vision and mission well. It tells the story of our history as a church, as well as the history of our city. It is also a very positive image throughout the Bible, often referring to the nourishing presence of God.