At a 154 years old and counting FBC Boise is the oldest congregation in Mission Northwest. It’s a strong, growing church occupying a classical style big steeple building in its downtown location. Recently it opened a new campus, Collister, when a nearby dying church invited FBC to move in and bring with it healthy ministry. Over the last five years FBC has also been a major player in planting two Boise Churches.
Recently FBC changed its name to “True Hope Church”. It is now “True Hope—First Baptist Campus” and “True Hope—Collister”.
In announcing the name change, Pastor Bruce Young posted the following article. As Mission Northwest churches strive to be more effective in reaching the Northwest with the Gospel it’s important to consider the rationale behind FBC’s decision to change their name. ~ Charles Revis
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“Get on the bandwagon” “Follow what’s trending” “Join the crowd” “Be more hip”
There’s something about all these statements that actually makes me want to go in the opposite direction.
I’ve never been a bandwagon sort of guy, which is why I have always resisted the lure to push for a name change from First Baptist Church to something more hip and trendy. Over the last 10-15 years, nearly every denominational church has changed their name. Often, their new name is a one-word title that is cheesy, meaningless, or just confusing.
For our church, we have an overwhelmingly positive 154-year history of ministry in the Treasure Valley. We have a good reputation with our neighbors, with the poor, with schools, with other non-profits, with our community. So, why change our name?
There are two main reasons:
1. Sadly, too many Baptist churches and Baptist leaders have burned bridges with our culture. For a large segment of society, Baptists are seen as legalistic, stuck in the past, flat-earth thinkers, and perhaps most damaging to the gospel, overtly political and even militant. This has led many to avoid visiting our church. Even today many who are now members of First Baptist Church initially resisted attending any Baptist church.
Fortunately, other forces were powerful enough to overcome their preconceptions and bring them through the doors and they are now joyfully a part of our church community. For many years we have heard from newcomers that ours was one of the last churches on their list to visit simply because of the reputation connected to the Baptist name.
2. For the fastest growing segment of our society (secularists), the name Baptist means nothing at all. It’s not a word they ever use nor does it stand for anything. It’s so foreign, in fact, that they don’t even associate it with baptism, which historically was a natural connection.
This is a problem for any business or organization which has a name that doesn’t direct people toward what it is or does. For example, a dry cleaning business that calls itself ‘Lampshade Company’. If you see the company name advertised on a van or city bus you would have no idea that it was a dry cleaning outfit. Likewise with the name Baptist.
In our world which is awash in bad news, true hope is in short supply. And, if we read the Scriptures correctly, these difficulties and problems (“birth pangs”) will only grow in intensity as we march into the future and the eventual return of Jesus Christ. In the meantime, Jesus is the only True Hope!
Therefore, without trying to be trendy, or hip, we believe the names True Hope First Baptist and True Hope Collister are more meaningful and descriptive names. And, for the downtown campus, retaining First Baptist in the name calls forth the wonderful history that has been etched into the annuls of the city of Boise since its inception. For this reason, we are not ready to completely eliminate First Baptist from our identity. While some will still have difficulty with the word ‘Baptist’, the ‘True Hope’ part of the name will at least convey our belief in a positive direction and outlook for the future through Jesus Christ.
~ Pastor Bruce Young