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Church Drops The Name “Church” From Their Title

Orginally published on Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 1:00 PM
by Todd Rhoades

One of the larger churches in Oregon is no longer a church. Well, it still would probably be categorized as a church. But it no longer calls itself that. East Hill Foursquare Church in Gresham is now simply known as "East Hill Family."

According to an announcement in the congregation’s new magazine, Connection, the name change “was done deliberately as an expression of the future” and in light of the fact that the congregation now offers several different worship service formats - some with live preaching, some with video, some with more contemporary music and some with more traditional formats.

A new logo also has been unveiled.

“Church implies a single group of people,” Senior Pastor Ted Roberts stated in the article. “Now we are multiple people groups, the ‘Café’ service, the ‘Classic’ service, and the ‘Central’ service. Probably within one to two years, we will have an additional worship venue service off campus.

“And that is the future of East Hill - to go beyond these walls eventually and not be limited geographically. We will become a family.”

[HT to Christian News Northwest]

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 TRACKBACKS: (2) There are 25 Comments:

  • Posted by

    This is thinking outside of the box.  Though I don’t see the problem with “church” in your name?  I think most churches (not all) view themselves as a family.  I would love to ask them several questiong these few come to mind.
    Sense the church is the bride of Christ are they not the bride of Christ anymore?  What motivated the change?  Are they not wanting to be associated with other churches, or to be thought of as a church and if so why? I think the motive behind this is just to be more seeker friendly.  If that is the case I see no problem I guess.  I would not do it this way.  Maybe they could use the words Christian Fellowship in place of church.  Not sure I like it, but not sure I would condem it.

  • Posted by

    This is actually somewhat refreshing.  A lot of what churches do today is not church, it’s something else. At least this place is not in disquise about it.  A lot of the country club, crowd pleasing stuff that goes on in churches today can be ok, but let’s not call it church, call it something else. Looks like these guys may actually see that.

  • Posted by Andy McAdams

    This is nothing new.  In my area we have lots of churches with names like that.  The Rock, The Movement , the Edge and I attend The Bridge.  It’s a good move in most cases.

  • Posted by Linda

    I’m old enough to remember that churches used to have a visual presence in the community.  I got saved in a Calvary chapel in 1972.  The trend then was to not look like a church.  I have mixed feelings because I like seeing churches.  I’m all for change but I like the name church and I like churches to stick out and be recognized as churches.

  • Posted by Linda

    I just wanted to add, isn’t it possible that we are becoming more “out of sight, out of mind.” The church does tend to loose its balance.  We rightfully have restored the Idea that we—you and me are the church, not a building but the name “church” and structure can draw people.

  • Posted by

    “church” is just an english translation of a word that meant the gathering of the faithful. So what if they don’t use it. If it breaks down barriers when they don’t use the name, I think it’s great. Where we are, we don’t feel like the word “church” hurts us, but if it did, I’d say to dump it…

  • Posted by

    I find the change interesting. In hebraic/Biblical thought, a name represents the person and/or their calling. Throughout scriptures, the Lord changes people’s names to reflect a change of character or destiny. It’s interesting that East Hill has dropped “church”, “called out ones” (not gathering of the faithful), to take on the name “family”, but doesn’t state whose family? Does it also strike anyone odd that the logo has become “eh?” as in “what’s the difference?” Didn’t Jesus pray that we would be one? Given the differences East Hill is trying to address, the one level we can all be unified on is that we followers of Christ are His “called out ones.”

  • Ok- a “church” that isn’t a “church"… I bet they still tell the IRS they are a church to get all the benefits of a church!  (Benefits include automatic 501C3 status and no tax returns to file for the church.) I guess whether they are a church or not depends who they are talking to!

    Their logic also seems to be self-contradicting-- they don’t want to be called “church” because it implies one group and they have many, yet they want to have a “family” and not “families.” They sound confused to me.  They want to have different groups yet one family-- I guess one family in name only…


  • Posted by

    I find it interesting that churches feel the need to call themselves something other than churches....they want something “different” or “catchy.” I realize that in today’s world, marketing is an important tool for selling. My question is this:  are we selling-OUT? 

    Doesn’t scripture tell us to not be conformed to the ways of the world? Do we really think that changing our name will suddenly cause people to show up for worship?  If the church does not have hands and feet to serve, the title of their particular congregation really won’t make a bit of difference.

    Perhaps we need to change our focus:  if we want to get noticed, concentrate on serving, like Jesus demonstrated, instead of changing our titles.

  • Posted by

    Whatever.  What matters is what goes on inside the “family.”

  • Posted by Jeff

    Strong’s states that the Greek meaning for church is “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.” So the more all-encompassing definition is “an assembly.”

    When you strip away pre-concieved ideas about steeples and stained glass, East Hill Family is still an assembly; still a church.

    What I find interesting is that the explanation seems to center around defining each part of the ‘family’ in terms of what worship service people attend.  That’s a very narrow way to define who you are, as the church is not just about what style of worship you use.  It’s more about your style of discipleship and service (as in service to God and neighbor); how you feel called to participate in and reach your community.

  • Posted by

    I think Strong’s definition of ekkleia is a little too specific. I’m traveling today so I don’t have my “real” Bible reference works handy, I’ll check tonight maybe. But in this case, as I recall, Strong’s isn’t so far off…

    Words sometimes lose or change their meanings. Not their “dictionary definition” but their meaning. This is why most of us are no longer using the King James Bible. If the word “church” is too loaded in your town, get rid of it. It’s kind of a made up word anyway. Ekklesia would not, I think, have been the word Jesus chose to call his assembly that would follow him if it had tons of negative meanings in that society.

    Whether they are the community of faith in Jesus Christ is the issue, not their name.

  • Posted by Linda

    I’m trying to learn something here, so here’s my question.  The letters to the churches in revelations, could it just as well say, “assembly” or “family”?

  • Posted by

    If what is in the bottle is weak and wont help you whats on the label does not matter anyway.
    I am not saying these ppl are, I do not know them, but I do question why do you want to remove the name church from your name, are you not a church, If i go to the store and buy corn I expect corn to be on the inside not something else, ppl know what a church is and why its there, lets not try and fool them. I am not a hardcore traditionalist but sometimes I think we are trying so hard to blend in with the thought ppl will be more comfortable, Jesus did not make ppl comfortable, he made them choose, he gave them truth, What ever you are, put your label on it.
    Any way thats my 2cents.....

  • Posted by Brendt

    Call your place of worship “Ed” for all I care, but this quote is downright terrifying:

    “Church implies a single group of people,” Senior Pastor Ted Roberts stated in the article. “Now we are multiple people groups...”

    Yeah, let’s do whatever we can to de-emphasize unity in the body.

  • Posted by Jeff

    Peter, I only provided the Strong’s definition to help pull together the two definitions of ‘church’ provided earlier in the thread.  I saw them as two parts of the whole and hoped that the ‘assembly’ definition could help with that.

    “Whether they are the community of faith in Jesus Christ is the issue, not their name.”


  • Posted by

    I am the wife of a United Methodist minister and a musician/worship leader.  We were employed at the same church in Asheville, NC.  In November of 2005, he got ousted by a handful of people after 25 years of service in churches that grew and ministered in the communities we were in.  It has been one of the ugliest, most un-christian things I’ve ever seen.  My faith in God has not changed.  He is my Rock, my Redeemer, my Sustainer.  However, my sense of the word “church” is skewed now.  I have not been to “church” since this happened.  I don’t want to be a part of the “church” anymore.  This may not sound rational to anyone, but this experience has hurt me so deeply that I’m literally in a fog most of the time.  I desire the company of Christians and the corporate worship of my Saviour, but don’t know if I’ll ever be able to serve in a “church” again.  I do feel called to be Christ’s healing in the world and to lead people into the presence of God.  So I appreciate EH changing the name.....(even though they did it for reasons other than what I’m talking about). I’m not the only one to ever be hurt by the “church”.

  • Posted by

    There is a Foursquare Church in our neighborhood that has now turned itself into a theatre, they call it the “Gospel outside of the box”.
    Ironic because their motto is Jesus Christ , the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
    No one attends this Church anymore, it is so sad.

    It truly seems as though the Church age is over, and that means Christ is coming again.  SOON.

    Let us return to preach Christ crucified as opposed to being Purpose Driven!

  • Posted by jan

    Interesting discussion! Though the trackback didn’t work, I wanted you to know I posted a reply back on my own blog.

  • Posted by

    This relabeling phenomenon has been going on for years.  The local church can label itself “fellowship” or “the center” or even “ed” but people at work around the water cooler still will talk about “going to church on Sunday” Monday morning.  The original church [or ekklesia] was already “outside the box” two thousand years ago.

  • I know that this type of action by a congregation is not new by any means.  However, I personally find it sad when any church feels it must hide from the word “church” due to the reputation that many have developed through the years.  I think the church is the people, and as such, the church will continue to be viewed as “church” and associated with both good and bad connotations of the word regardless of its name in legal or promotional materials.

    My heart truly goes out to people like you, Jamie, who have experienced one of the worst parts of the church.  Know that I’m praying for you today.

  • Posted by Bryan

    It is interesting that we even think a name change will change who we are or the perception of who we are. Some have mentioned because many have been hurt in the church, name change is good. Why do we only apply that philosophy to the church. I know many have been hurt by their peers at work but have not set our on a personal crusade to change the name “work”, “job” or “career”. That have not even lobbied to change the name of IBM, or Wal-Mart or any other company name. The fact is church means “called-out assembly”. We are called out from the masses to be different and rise-up to God’s standard. Do we fall short at times? Obviously. But that is why Jesus emphasized so many times that we are to forgive others just as God forgave us. BE PROUD WE ARE A PART OF THE CHURCH AND START A JOURNEY TO CHANGE THE PERCEPTION, NOT THE NAME.

  • Posted by

    It has been so interesting to read this thread. I am new to this brilliant site, I’m also English so there’s a bit of culture shock going on but it’s amazing to see so much thought going into things like this. I’ll try to say something more profound next time.

  • Posted by

    I’m not a big fan of their new logo but that aside… does it seem to anyone else that because of the little cross icon their logo says “church” even if their name doesn’t?

  • Posted by

    Do they have different names for each of their multiple “gatherings”?

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