“O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”

My man Willy S. wrote that in his play Romeo and Juliet (one of my least favorite of his plays, but I like a lot of the lines). This has been the bane of my existence for almost the last year: pick a name for our church plant. This wasn’t my responsibility, that lay with “the man who would be head pastor.” When one is giving birth, he reserves the right to name his child. I was one of the people whom he bounced possible names off of. Though I vetoed more than my fair share.

The original thought was to choose a name with the ideas of way, walk, place, room, water (fluidity), something that would convey what we were about. Here are some of the names that passed through our brains:

cruciform (cross-shaped), the core, living room, desert springs, living springs, landing place, upper room, quest, fusion, encounter, oasis, torn veil (torn curtain), story, synergy, sanctuary, haven, the outcasts, ripple effect, the calling, shalom, conversations, encounters, Levi’s table, apprentices, becoming, burning hearts, between times, disciples’ journey.

“The man who would be head pastor” always believed that when we stumbled across the right name, we would know it immediately. Some of the names sounded like we were trying too hard to be edgy or post-modern. We wanted a name that was both Biblical (since it’s not like we’re afraid of being called or looking like a church) yet would be comfortable for non-church folk to walk into. Something without a denominational label and all the baggage that comes with that label (especially since, well, we’d have to explain something like “post-Protestant”).

It was a weird process. A name would get thrown out, test the initial reactions, then “live with it” for a while. I learned to not get too attached to any of them, since the name seemed to change each week. Some stuck out more or lasted longer than others: Shane’s Chicken, Waffles, and Jesus (a personal favorite), the Sacred Order of the Towel (meant to convey Jesus taking up His towel and serving others, but we’d also just got through seeing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), the Society of Jesus (nixed after I made a “League of Extra-Ordinary Christians” joke), Way of Life (was in the running for a long time), Addison’s Walk (named for the park where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had a conversation that eventuated with Lewis coming to Christianity).

[The name Pensees came up, but we decided that if we ever had a coffee shop as a part of our church that we’d name it that. Back away from that name!]

Then the name came to him. The Dwelling Place. Someplace you choose to be your home. Someplace where, when people leave, they have something dwell on. With the images of individuals being built into a dwelling place (Ephesians 3), a community being built into a dwelling place (Ephesians 2:19-22), and God being our dwelling place (Psalms 91:1). The name resonated with us.

The Dwelling Place. A faith community. It’s on legal documents, so it won’t be changed.

Well, probably not, anyways. (I’m still kinda hoping that Shane’s Chicken, Waffles, and Jesus makes a comeback.)

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