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Church name change... any thoughts?


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This has become a rather common phenomenom.

 

I prefer something like...

 

Preaching It Like It Is Whether You Like It Or Not Church

 

verses

 

Living Streams of Cotton Candy Church.

 

Just joking, kinda.

 

I really like the name of one church I came across called Sovereign Grace Church.

 

I have a lot of thoughts about it but I'd rather crack a joke then start a rant.

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I don't know anything about your church, but if my church-which has the denomination in the name-wanted to take it out due to negative connotations, I would be very upset, and would start to question staying there. I know that we want to bring in new people, but as a church, we need to stand for something, not try to hide who we are. Have you talked to the elders or other members to get their feelings?

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Most churches who choose a name on the basis of it's ability to pull people into the service, "become" their name. They give up their doctrinal identity for one based upon their ability to "perform".

 

In other words... First Methodist Church may have been the first Methodist church in town with a rich and deep doctrinal feeling of purpose, but now it's The Bridge Church and it's all about bridging the cultural divide between the world and the church so they've brought in rock bands and try to be more cultural relevant. They've become their name. Most of the new members may not even know the church once used to be Methodist. They don't even know what that means.

 

Some have dropped the word church altogether.

Edited by Daisy
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Most churches who choose a name on the basis of it's ability to pull people into the service, "become" their name. They give up their doctrinal identity for one based upon their ability to "perform".

 

In other words... First Methodist Church may have been the first Methodist church in town with a rich and deep doctrinal feeling of purpose, but now it's The Bridge Church and it's all about bridging the cultural divide between the world and the church so they've brought in rock bands and try to be more cultural relevant. They've become their name. Most of the new members may not even know the church once used to be Methodist. They don't even know what that means.

I guess that makes sense. Especially if the average churchgoer is not interested in whatever underlying doctrine may be present. So, is it all about getting butts in the seats, so to speak?

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well, if the doctrine is still Baptist, isn't that kinda a bait & switch?

 

Good point.

 

It's not bait & switch if someone has the idea that Baptist means suits and ties and hellfire & brimstone. It's the false connotations. The idea is: come in the door and see what it's like - don't pre-decide based on your idea of "Baptist" that may not be true here.

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I tend to think negatively about this sort of thing, too, but just to play devil's advocate--

 

before coming to this (Baptist) seminary, I'd never set foot in a Baptist church. I wouldn't even consider it, because I thought I knew what they were.

 

Since then, I've visited quite a few, & the diversity has amazed me. It turns out that a lot of what Baptists believe is really close to what I believe.

 

For nearly 10 yrs, dh & I looked for a church w/out success. We visited some pretty wacky places. We should really have visited the Baptist church in town, but we didn't. If it had had a non-Baptist name, we would have. And we would have been surprised to find out that it was Baptist & that Baptists are such reasonable people.

 

It's too bad we were like that, but if the same is true of other people, I could see how a name change *might* be worth thinking about. Not nec. a good idea, but not nec as bad as it seems, kwim?

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I think it starts with a genuine desire to see nonbelievers converted. However, the Sunday service was never intended to be a soul-winning event. The purpose of corporate worship is to worship God.

 

Sharing our faith happens outside of the church building.

 

Most church members have relegated the task of faith-sharing to the pastor and the church programs. So churches become more and more evangelistically-based rather than doctrinally-based.

 

What happens ultimately is that the church becomes man-centered rather than God-centered.

 

And oddly enough I think most nonbelievers are MORE offended at attending a church that treats them like a shake-down at the perfume counter than if they visited and saw people worshiping their Creator.

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Have you talked to the elders or other members to get their feelings?

 

 

This is very much a wide-open church discussion at this time. But obviously its taking place inside the church and I wanted to have some ideas from people outside our church.

 

Would you be more likely to consider a church that was not called First Baptist Church? Or, would you be less likely to consider a church that was called First Baptist Church.

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I think it starts with a genuine desire to see nonbelievers converted. However, the Sunday service was never intended to be a soul-winning event. The purpose of corporate worship is to worship God.

 

Sharing our faith happens outside of the church building.

 

Most church members have relegated the task of faith-sharing to the pastor and the church programs. So churches become more and more evangelistically-based rather than doctrinally-based.

 

What happens ultimately is that the church becomes man-centered rather than God-centered.

 

And oddly enough I think most nonbelievers are MORE offended at attending a church that treats them like a shake-down at the perfume counter than if they visited and saw people worshiping their Creator.

 

i concur! well said.

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This is very much a wide-open church discussion at this time. But obviously its taking place inside the church and I wanted to have some ideas from people outside our church.

 

Would you be more likely to consider a church that was not called First Baptist Church? Or, would you be less likely to consider a church that was called First Baptist Church.

 

Dh & I were just talking about this last night. We're part of a church replant. The old one was Lakeside Baptist--I don't know why; I don't think there's a lake anywhere nearby. The new one will be called The Ridge. I don't get that, either.

 

I'm not thrilled about 1st Baptist because I don't feel like it says much about what kind of Baptist a church is, & it takes forever to visit all the churches. I still haven't gone to one w/ that name.

 

Otoh, when a church tries to express its beliefs in its name, that can get pretty corny, too. The alternative is the new trend towards names like The Ridge, which I think is off-putting because it's trendy. It speaks to me of mega churches & rock bands. Not that that's what our church is, lol.

 

I concluded that I'm glad it's not my job to name the church. Dh said his favorite church name is the one we met in: Christ Fellowship. Simple, straight-forward. Taken, though. :lol:

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This is very much a wide-open church discussion at this time. But obviously its taking place inside the church and I wanted to have some ideas from people outside our church.

 

Would you be more likely to consider a church that was not called First Baptist Church? Or, would you be less likely to consider a church that was called First Baptist Church.

 

 

My personal experience, having been raised "baptist" is that there are MANY flavors of baptist. There are so many variations of "baptist" out there....it gets kind of confusing!

 

First Baptist Church in Town A, USA is not necessarily the same as First Baptist Church in Town B, USA. I have lived all my life in Texas but in 7 different towns......and all the baptist churches were different.

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I think it starts with a genuine desire to see nonbelievers converted. However, the Sunday service was never intended to be a soul-winning event. The purpose of corporate worship is to worship God.

 

Sharing our faith happens outside of the church building.

 

Most church members have relegated the task of faith-sharing to the pastor and the church programs. So churches become more and more evangelistically-based rather than doctrinally-based.

 

What happens ultimately is that the church becomes man-centered rather than God-centered.

 

And oddly enough I think most nonbelievers are MORE offended at attending a church that treats them like a shake-down at the perfume counter than if they visited and saw people worshiping their Creator.

 

Yes, yes, yes. If this were smaller I'd have it printed on a t-shirt and wear to my church. :001_smile:

 

It is possible to be concerned with welcoming new people and making the gospel accessible and still be a place that praises God, teaches the gospel and challenges its members to live the message.

 

I would rather hear a uncomfortable sermon that makes me think than hear just another happy, happy, cotton-candy one.

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Perhaps your church might give those who have negative connotations a good impression of the word Baptist.

If you're still going to be baptists, why change the name?

 

Great point. Our church is very much in the community and out in the world making an incredible reputation.

 

 

So, is it all about getting butts in the seats, so to speak?

 

This is a major concern - that it is not a church just trying to have lots of numbers. My own experience is that if this was the heart of this church, it would be a lot easier to just "sit and soak" and be entertained. However, its not; in fact, in some ways its a very uncomfortable place to be because there is always a great, personal, faith-growing challenge being made (and I'm not talking about money).

 

 

These are excellent points being made. I'm glad I asked... so far... :bigear:

Edited by in Training in Texas
typo (is instead of in)
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My personal experience, having been raised "baptist" is that there are MANY flavors of baptist. There are so many variations of "baptist" out there....it gets kind of confusing!

First Baptist Church in Town A, USA is not necessarily the same as First Baptist Church in Town B, USA. I have lived all my life in Texas but in 7 different towns......and all the baptist churches were different.

 

 

Very true!

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I personally think that a local church (if it's going to have a name) should be named according to the location it's at, as it's truly just the local gathering of the whole body of Christ.

 

:001_smile: Like Paul's letter to the church at _____ (pick one)

 

But there are so many congregations (body parts) in each city, that it would get confusing.

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I think it starts with a genuine desire to see nonbelievers converted. However, the Sunday service was never intended to be a soul-winning event. The purpose of corporate worship is to worship God.

 

Sharing our faith happens outside of the church building.

 

Most church members have relegated the task of faith-sharing to the pastor and the church programs. So churches become more and more evangelistically-based rather than doctrinally-based.

 

What happens ultimately is that the church becomes man-centered rather than God-centered.

 

And oddly enough I think most nonbelievers are MORE offended at attending a church that treats them like a shake-down at the perfume counter than if they visited and saw people worshiping their Creator.

 

You are saying exactly what I've been thinking for awhile. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone!

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My first thought was that I am not for changing the name of the church. It is what it is.

 

My second thought is that if that were the case, my family would still be looking for a church home.

 

We attend a church that is an "offshoot" of the local First Baptist Church, where I have refused to attend because of some bad childhood experiences there. The church we attend is called The Simple Church. The name was chosen because they want church to be simple, so to speak. Nobody cares what you drive, what your clothes look like, where you come from. They care about ministering to your needs, the needs of the community, and bringing people closer to the Lord. I think the one theme I have heard most at this church is "Find a place where you can serve, and serve."

 

This is the first church I have been to in the 40 years of my life where I felt close to God immediately and comfortable in my own skin.

 

So, after saying all that, I can't really say it's a bad thing to take the denomination name out of a church name. I guess I'll never be too old to change my mind.

 

Jeannie

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Living Streams of Cotton Candy Church.

 

Just joking, kinda.

 

 

Were DH here, he would trot out his old chestnut:

 

First Church of What's Happenin' Now ;)

 

But seriously. I think I get where your church is coming from, OP: Before people even walk in the door, they have preconceived notions--which may or may not be accurate--about what Baptist means. Having said that, I also get the argument that if you are in fact a Baptist church, then... :001_huh:.

Edited by laylamcb
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But seriously. I think I get where your church is coming from, OP: Before people even walk in the door, they have preconceived notions--which may or may not be accurate--about what Baptist means. Having said that, I also get the argument that if you are in fact a Baptist church, then... :001_huh:.

 

I, too, will be interested to find out what the answer to this question is. Is there an easy way to print out a whole thread??

 

If my church wanted to remove the denomination from the name, I would be leaving. I would be looking for a church who wasn't ashamed of who they are and what they believe.

 

I think this is perhaps where this discussion in a church (mine or the hundreds like it who have actually changed the name of an SBC church) will get heated. I don't know that anyone in my church is necessarily ashamed to be Baptist, maybe ashamed of some of the things that other churches have done to damage the denomination. And maybe that's not fair either. If Baptist means suit and tie to someone, they may not know that it doesn't mean suit and tie at this church.

 

In any case, its the outside perception, as Laylamcb said, right or wrong, that is prompting this consideration.

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Didn't this renaming a church trend come from A Purpose Driven Life By Rick Warren? Seems like something about church names was talked about (it's been a while since I read the book), wanting to have "Deeds, not Creeds". I think that's part of the reason why his church is called "Saddleback" instead of "Ordinal Baptist Church of Somewhere".

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I guess it depends if they are an independent church or still tied to a Baptist authority. If they are still tied to a Baptist association then I think they should retain the name. I tend to check the beliefs of a church before I attend because all of the names out there are so confusing.

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I have nothing against a church not having the denomination in the name - ours doesn't.

However,

I don't see any reason that a church should change its name, unless it was a reflection of larger changes within the church.

 

I would probably not attend a baptist church unless I had checked out other churches first, not because I am anti-baptist, but rather because I would be looking for a PCA church instead.

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My church is considering a name change from First Baptist Church because of negative connotations of "Baptist" and those who may never consider the church due to the name. What the new name would be is not being discussed yet, if ever.

 

Any thoughts?

Yes. It's wrong.

 

Some people will be looking for a Baptist church because they want to go there. Some people will be looking for a Baptist church because they *don't* want to go there. It's unfair to invite people into the church and spring it on them that it's Baptist (or AG, or Presbyterian, or any other denomination).

 

Some people will feel negatively about Baptist churches because of past experiences. That's something they will have to deal with. But how do you suppose they would feel to find out they've been snookered in?

 

And isn't your church part of the Baptist convention because its founders believed in the doctrinal statements and organizational matters and whatnot? Then why should they be ashamed of it and want to hide it?

 

And doesn't your church have history in the community? Why throw that history away--which is what will happen when the name is changed--just because some people, who answered questions on Whatshisnames surveys, are put off by denominational labels? Millions more of us *want* those labels. We *chose* that denomination for a reason.

 

I would be strongly tempted to leave a church which decided to change its name and remove its denominational assignations. Oh wait...I did that already.

:rant:

 

Yes, I feel strongly about this.

 

:chillpill:

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If the church is wanting to change the name to hide the fact it's a Baptist church, then it's wrong to hide that, especially if the church is part of the Baptist convention.

 

However, if your church tends to have Baptist leanings, but isn't affiliated with any denominational governing body, then changing the name isn't an issue for me.

 

I used to attend a huge, non-denom mega church. It has Baptist leanings, doctrinally, but was self-governed and not associated with the Baptist denomination. In its name was "Community Church" which suited me fine (as well as several thousand others!) even though I knew that it was very close doctrinally to the Baptist church.

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I appreciate all the opinions on this topic from a church perspective, as I think its very important to see that there are very good reasons to differ on this.

 

Can anyone else offer an opinion on whether they would be more or less likely to go to a Baptist church because it has Baptist in the name? Do you know of people who won't go to your church or another church because of Baptist in the name?

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I appreciate all the opinions on this topic from a church perspective, as I think its very important to see that there are very good reasons to differ on this.

 

Can anyone else offer an opinion on whether they would be more or less likely to go to a Baptist church because it has Baptist in the name? Do you know of people who won't go to your church or another church because of Baptist in the name?

 

Well, to be honest, no. I won't attend a Baptist church. One of the reasons is that I have had negative experiences in every. single. one. I've attended (4). There was no consistency between them, other than the fact that the preaching was fluffy and emotional and the people were very cliquey. One Baptist church wouldn't accept my baptism at a community church, even though we'd spoken at length about my salvation and my understanding of baptism.

 

Now, having said all that, I'm not anti-Baptist and I have a good friend who's a Baptist pastor's wife. But for me, a Baptist church would not be my first choice.

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I appreciate all the opinions on this topic from a church perspective, as I think its very important to see that there are very good reasons to differ on this.

 

Can anyone else offer an opinion on whether they would be more or less likely to go to a Baptist church because it has Baptist in the name? Do you know of people who won't go to your church or another church because of Baptist in the name?

 

I wouldn't go to a Baptist church because I am not of that denomination. I could apply that to other denominations too, so it's not just a Baptist thing. How would this church be listed in the phone book? Under non-denominational? Baptist? When we initially started looking for a church I looked in the phone book to start, then the internet.

 

Honestly I think a strong internet presence is going to be just as vital as the name at drawing in new believers. If I can't find out where and when services are or a statement of beliefs online I would be more likely to pass up visiting your church.

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I wouldn't go to a Baptist church because I am not of that denomination. I could apply that to other denominations too, so it's not just a Baptist thing. How would this church be listed in the phone book? Under non-denominational? Baptist? When we initially started looking for a church I looked in the phone book to start, then the internet.

 

Honestly I think a strong internet presence is going to be just as vital as the name at drawing in new believers. If I can't find out where and when services are or a statement of beliefs online I would be more likely to pass up visiting your church.

 

This is an excellent point. When I was church shopping, I went through the phone book and started with the churches that had websites. Seeing doctrinal and faith statements helped greatly when deciding which church to visit.

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I appreciate all the opinions on this topic from a church perspective, as I think its very important to see that there are very good reasons to differ on this.

 

Can anyone else offer an opinion on whether they would be more or less likely to go to a Baptist church because it has Baptist in the name? Do you know of people who won't go to your church or another church because of Baptist in the name?

I would not go to a Baptist church, whether or not "Baptist" appeared in the name, because I disagree with some areas of Baptist doctrine (this is not to start a debate about doctrine, please). If I were looking for a church, I would not just choose a random church by what name was appealing to me. I would have to know the demoninational affiliation, and if there was none, I would need to know the doctrinal beliefs.

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Okay, there is something in a name. I started out saying it didn't matter and had to come in and edit. Obviously I'm not going to attend Living Streams of Cotton Candy Church. I'm not going to attend an Assemblies of God church either because I grew up in that and AM. NOT. GOING. THERE. But other than that, we just want to know what the church believes.

 

We basically set up an appointment with the pastor and grill the poor man to death on his doctrinal beliefs. We want to see the church's doctrinal statement and/or creeds prominently displayed in their literature and/or website.

 

We aren't looking for a social club and I hate having to wade through social clubs in order to find the doctrinal statment buried on the last page as the last link to no man's land.

Edited by Daisy
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Maybe the question can be rephrased:

 

If you were looking for a church, under whatever circumstances, would you consider, or not consider a church because it was called "First Baptist Church"?

 

However, that's because I'm not Baptist and don't agree with their theology in all points. I have nothing against the Baptist church, individually or as a whole. I have had some wonderful, Christian friends who were Baptist.

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So when you first read "Baptist" in this post, what images or thoughts did that bring up? Around the country and internationally, the images are not good.

 

I think the point trying to be made in considering the name change is that it brings up something negative, and that its not fair because those things are not what this church is about. So someone visits and then they find some doctrine they cannot agree with and they search for fellowship elsewhere, great. But someone else visits and does not find stuffiness and cliques and organ music and suits and ties and they stay and hear the Word of God and meet authentic caring people and they grow closer to the Lord, or even find Him for the first time. They may not have visited at all had the name been First Baptist Church.

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So when you first read "Baptist" in this post, what images or thoughts did that bring up? Around the country and internationally, the images are not good.

 

I think the point trying to be made in considering the name change is that it brings up something negative, and that its not fair because those things are not what this church is about. So someone visits and then they find some doctrine they cannot agree with and they search for fellowship elsewhere, great. But someone else visits and does not find stuffiness and cliques and organ music and suits and ties and they stay and hear the Word of God and meet authentic caring people and they grow closer to the Lord, or even find Him for the first time. They may not have visited at all had the name been First Baptist Church.

Mr. Ellie grew up in the Southern Baptist church, the son of a deacon.

 

When someone asks me for a reference for a specific denomination, I give them two: Assembly of God (which we mostly have attended for 30 years) and Southern Baptist. I trust their theology.

 

If the leaders of your church think their denomination is getting a bad rap, then they should be checking their behavior and not changing the name to hide anything. Or they should leave the denomination. To change the name so people won't know it's Baptist is just plain dishonest.

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We attended a Baptist church in Hawaii. I used to laugh to hear a friend describe it as "Faith Baptist Church, but we're not that kind of Baptist." Her family had transferred from Tennessee where Baptist meant something quite different and she felt that she needed to explain (both to encourage one set of visitors and to warn another).

 

I used to think that the Baptist church was rather monolithic because I'd been around Baptist churches that did have a denominational heirarchy (for example, having pastors assigned rather than chosen by the congregation or elders). But there is a lot of variation within the term. In one place it indicates views on practices like dancing, drinking, leadership structure etc. In another place it might only indicate a doctrine on baptism. In still another, it might only indicate that the church had been founded by Baptists, but reveal little about the doctrines of this particular congregation now.

 

So I guess I'd say that context matters. Baptist didn't carry the same connotation in Hawaii that it might in Texas (where my parents' church did drop Baptist from their name).

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If I were looking for a church, the very first thing I'd look for is "Baptist." That's because I believe strongly in their core beliefs of salvation through a conversion experience and believer's baptism. I realize that there are all flavors of "Baptist," though. I've attended Southern Baptist churches, fundamentalist (BJU-affiliated) Baptist churches, Reformed Baptist churches (including one that was so opinionated and divisive that I walked out and never went back), and a Baptist church in New England which is affiliated with...I'm not sure, American Baptist or conservative Baptist?

 

What we're in now is a wonderful mix of Reformed (but not heavy "dark-side" reformed) and tremendously evangelistic. Sunday mornings -- and Sunday evenings -- are a delight. The members work diligently to seek out the unsaved and bring them to a knowledge of Christ -- there's no slacking off under the excuse of predestination. The preaching is brilliant but not heavy and legalistic, and there's plenty of practical application. Our family is thrilled to be there. It's the very best of what "Baptist" can possibly mean.

 

The name of our church is "(place name) Baptist Church."

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All the rage right now seems to be the "feel good" churches with "cool, trendy" names. They are popping up all over our area. Journey Church. Canvas Church. Celebration Church. Personally, I would never go into any of those churches because I'm not quite sure what they stand for. I'm a Baptist, I was raised Baptist, I believe the Baptist doctrine....so a Baptist church is what I would attend.

 

I do understand wanting to pull non-believers in to share the gospel with them. However, I dont think you should do that by covering up by hiding the fact that you are a Baptist church.

 

I dont like the "feel good" trend right now. They want you to walk out of church feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, God loves us.....and that is warm and fuzzy. But I dont want a church who will be afraid to step on toes and flat out tell you what's a sin. And these new church names just seem to be on the same trend as the feel good churches. Maybe they are not, but that's just the connotation that I get.

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When I move into a community, I have a few different denominations that I would choose from for a church. We have in our 22 years in the military attended or been members of PCUSA, PCUSA which left that denomination and is now EPC, UMC, and PCA. We also were attenders at base chapels during two periods where at least part of the time , we had Baptist chaplains. They preached very well but since they were chaplains, they couldn't throw us out even though we had had infant baptisms. So I don't look for Baptist Churches but I am equally hesistant to try churches with name like Journey, Community, Bible, etc. where I am completely unclear on what the theology is and the services would be like.

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