The Little Church on the Prairie...
Seriously? That's the name of the church?
If you've lived in Lakewood, this name is no big deal. It's a part of your reality. People around Lakewood know this name because the church is kind of a historic place. It's been around as long as Lakewood has been around, and the church has done some pretty significant ministry around here. So when locals hear the name, they think of the history and the legacy of the ministry of the Little Church on the Prairie.
When everyone else hears the name of the church, they hear "Little House on the Prairie."
Come on. You did too.
When I tell people the name of the church where I pastor, one of the most common reactions is laughter. They think I'm kidding. And when they realize it's really our name, they're embarrassed for laughing.
That's how it typically goes.
For new residents in Lakewood and for others who don't know our history, the name doesn't do anything for us. One could make the argument that the name actually might be hurting us with new residents and younger people who are looking for a church in the area.
When I first came to LCOP as its senior pastor, one of the changes I contemplated was leading the church through a name change.
As with all change a leader leads, there are some very important questions to consider:
- What are the costs?
- What are the benefits?
- Is this a battle worth fighting?
First, what are the costs of making such a change?
There are folks at LCOP who were born here. They're parents help to get the church started. They were baptized here, married here, and buried their loved ones here. The Little Church is their church. Changing the name of a church or organization that has as much emotional ties as our's should only be taken with the utmost care.
The cost of making a name change would have been very significant. It could have been done but would come at a costly relational price.
Second, what would be the benefits of a name change?
We could have gone with a name that expressed more clearly the vision and the direction of the church, a name that connected with the people we are trying to reach in the community.
Finally, would this been a battle worth fighting?
One of the realities of leadership is that not all battles are worth fighting. There are things that absolutely need to be fought for, but not all things fit in that category.
The more I spent time reflecting on the name, it was clear that this would have way more relational cost and consequences than benefits. And more importantly, with all the other things that needed changing, the name of the church was not even close to being a priority.
I'm going on four years of as one of the pastors at the Little Church on the Prairie. You know what? The name's grown on me. I actually think it really fits the culture and the history of this church.
We are a place where simplicity matters, relationships matter, character matters. We may not be the fanciest place around, but you're going to find some wonderful, caring, loving people at the Little Church on the Prairie.
The Little Church on the Prairie...Love this church! Love this name.