“It Doesn’t Matter What it Says on the Building” – Lee Moses

Lee Moses

Not too long ago, I heard a denominational preacher assert, “It doesn’t matter what it says on the [church] building.” He was affirming that how people designate the church of which they are members is inconsequential to God and to their right standing with Him. So, according to this preacher, if people want to name their church after their organizational structure, as do Presbyterian (i.e., governed by elders, Greek presbuteroi) churches, they are free to do so. I suppose if they want to name their church after a more obviously unscriptural organizational structure—as with the Episcopal denomination—they are free to do so as well? If “it doesn’t matter what it says on the building,” then they are. But does it matter?

A name says something. If a sign in front of a church building reads, “Church of Wickedness,” does this not convey a message? Of course it does. It conveys a message that is anti-Scriptural (Rom. 6:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:9). As such, it is a name that neither honors God nor pleases Him. Our example is extreme, but the same is true of less extreme examples. Any church who chooses their own name could potentially be conveying an unscriptural message and could be displeasing God.

Additionally, when you name someone, you claim possession of that person. This was made clear when God selected the name “Jesus” for His unborn Son, then Joseph named that child “Jesus” after His birth (Matt. 1:21, 25). God laid claim to the child as His own Son, and Joseph claimed Jesus as his legal son. People name their own children, not others’ children. It would be presumptuous to claim possession of that which belongs to the Lord.

We are to do all things in the name of Jesus Christ: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). This means more than printing “Jesus” or “Christ” on a sign. But it does mean that we are to do all things by New Testament authority (cf. Acts 4:7; John 12:48; 1 Cor. 2:9-16). God has already given several designations of His church in Scripture; for example, the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18), the church of God (Acts 20:28), the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16), the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13), the house of Christ (Heb. 3:6), the church of the firstborn (12:23), the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:2), and the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9). To select a different name is to ex-press dissatisfaction with what God has said. Observe that Moses did not simply select a name of his own choosing to apply to the Deity he met at the bush (Exo. 3:13).

Perhaps a church may happen to meet in a building that is not a church building, such as a school, civic center, or other similar facility. In such cases, the sign on the building in no way conveys anything about the church that meets there, and it does not necessarily matter what it says on the building. However, when a church owns its meeting place, it matters what the signage says on or around the building. If it is a Scriptural congregation, it will convey that it is a church of Christ that meets there.

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Author: Editor

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