Well, many of you know we’ve been laboring away at a name for a couple months—and what a long, arduous process it has been.
We started with a couple weeks of brainstorming, through which a couple potential names emerged (image and epic, if you wanted to know). We took them to our Dallas friends and asked them what they thought and received consistently negative feedback.
So we decided to go back to the drawing board.
Our struggles motivated us to enlist the help of an ad/marketing agency called Isphere. Chris Gaines, Isphere’s President, is a member of the Richland Hills Church and a creative mastermind. Take a look at some of his company’s work with Richland Hills at www.dangerousmessage.com. We knew after a lunch meeting with Chris that he would provide invaluable help and input to our process.
As of this morning, with encouragement from Chris and other friends, we’ve landed on Storyline Christian Community.
I’m hoping others will ask that same question. I know it’s weird and different, and that’s part of the intrigue. That’s partly why I love it. Because when you ask, I can tell you:
Storyline is a word for plot. It refers to the way a story moves, the direction it’s headed. All of our lives move along a storyline. Our storylines intersect with other people’s storylines.
What if there was one storyline that overarched every human’s personal storyline? What if there was one grand narrative that all of us were part of?
That’s exactly what we believe is going on in the world: God is weaving a storyline together out of all of our stories. And it’s up to us to choose whether or not our personal storylines intersect and merge with God’s.
What exactly is God’s storyline? Simply, that:
- God created the world and humanity for the sake of genuine relationship with what he made;
- humanity decided to go it’s own way and brokenness ensued in humanity and the world;
- God takes on human form in Jesus of Nazareth and through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection God provides a way for humanity and the world the be healed;
- one day God will bring about the total restoration of the world and humanity that began when God raised Jesus from the dead;
- and in the meantime, the community of people that find healing in Jesus comprise the Church and they exist to invite others into the same kind of healing and partner with God for the sake of the world’s restoration.
What a story! This is the story that gets me out of bed in the morning.
Why Christian Community (and not Church)?
Like the early church, we chose functional words to describe who we are. The word “church” (Greek: ekklesia) was actually a word the early Christians borrowed from their Greco-Roman cultural warehouse. This word for church frequently referred to a government legislative assembly.
So in the same spirit, we are a Christian Community. We are Christian because we live by the spirituality of Jesus, the Christ/Messiah; and we are a Community because we are a network of relationships, not an institution.
At the same time, we’re not averse to the word church. It’s a well-known word in our culture (though packed with lots of baggage). We are a church. We are church starters. And we are, by God’s grace, a part of the universal Church. We are in no way ashamed of that.
[Side note for Greek nerds: Dr. Allen Black at Harding Grad School cautions against pulling theological meanings out of the etymology of ekklesia—as in the church as a “called out” people (ek = out; klesia = called). Making that kind of meaning would be equivalent to saying that a butterfly is a fly whose wings are greased with butter. Ridiculous. The etymology totally misses the actual import and reference of the word. Sorry—I’ve been holding on to that little gem for a long time.]
What’s funny is that my first official presentation for this new church at a Mission Alive Strategy Lab was arbitrarily called “Story Church.” We’ve come full circle in many ways.
Tonight the Kisers and the Porches are going out on the town to celebrate the victory of arriving at a name. We will think of you as we enjoy our crème brulee.
We’ll keep you posted as we develop a website at www.storylinecommunity.com (and .org, and .net—we purchased them all!)
Next week I’ll share what a typical house church gathering has looked like thus far.
Thanks for your prayers.