You can see in the photo, the rebranding of one of our larger LCMS congregations is complete and the new name is Pathfinder Church. It is the second iteration, the first one simply being the decision to drop the name Lutheran and keep the generic St. John Church. The pastor is quite excited about the name change for the church. I found it interesting that the votes totaled 431, a rather small number for a congregation that posts its membership as 5,000 and change. I admit to snickering that the new brand is an old name, the Adventist scouting alternative and a fairly popular Nissan product! But I find it even more curious that a name change matters all that much. I venture to say that most folks in the market served by the St. John brand already know who this congregation is and will now have to relearn who it is and associate a new name with the same location and, we are told, the same congregation and ministry. So what is the benefit of rebranding? It is a rhetorical question and if you can inform me, I am waiting to hear and understand.
Rebranding is usually a move that signals either discontinuity with its past or an attempt to refresh a tired old brand in decline. So I am confused. Either the rebranding means that there is going to be a clear disconnect with its past or it is suggesting that it is in decline and is trying to project a new image for an old entity. Neither option would be admitted in this case. And who am I to know better.
Perhaps an odd name is a blessing in disguise! If that is the case, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is a name worth its weight in gold. At least no one would ever confuse us with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod or a host of other names. Oh well, its our oddball name and we don't have the spare cash to come up with a new one anyway so I guess we will keep it. I probably am able to convince a goodly number of LCMSers to retain the strange old name but I doubt I will have much success getting the edgy folks in our Synod to take back St. John Church.