What do you mean by “First”?

I received duplicate postcards in the mail yesterday with First Church’s Advent schedule.

Oh, and, yes, at the bottom of the back of the postcard, in small print was more information to identify which particular “First Church” it was.

There are a LOT of “First” Churches.  Just within my own denomination, The United Methodist Church, there is practically one per town.  I have served several different “First” Churches myself.

The first time I really noticed the tragedy of referring to one’s Church only as “First Church” was when, about 6 years ago, I was told in a District email that the next District Clergy meeting would be held at “First Church.”  Since I served at one of the First Churches in the District, I immediately called the District Office to ask that next time I be informed when I would be hosting a meeting.

I was told (with a chuckle) that of course they hadn’t meant my First Church, but the First Church of the same city that bore the name of the District.

Oh, THAT First Church!

Besides the possible arrogance involved in assuming everyone ought to know that you mean the BIG church, I’ve come to realize an even worse assumption for the Church to make in assuming a nickname like “First Church.”

If we are trying to communicate with the 60 or so percent of the population that doesn’t have a church home, how do we expect them to know what we mean by “First Church” if every town has several churches that, minus their particular denominational tag, are “First Church.”

If, on the other hand, we are merely intending to communicate with those already in the “in” crowd, then let us continue refusing to identify our churches very well.

Here ends today’s rant.  Happy Advent!

3 thoughts on “What do you mean by “First”?

  1. Amen brother! This has driven me crazy for years! I much prefer a church name that says something about who that church is, rather than bragging about the fact that they were the first of their denomination to start a church in that city. I also don’t really like churches that are named for streets because it can lead to confusion (like Lover’s Lane UMC which is not on Lover’s Lane anymore!). So I guess that ends my rant too. Thanks for sharing!

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