It was March 12, 2015. My wife, Cora, and I were at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital. She had just delivered our first child, a little baby boy. After 9 months of waiting, he was finally here! We only had one little issue we hadn’t completely figured out a name for him yet. Now before you go judging us as terrible parents, you should know that we had some names picked out, but we were still debating back and forth between two names. After about 20 minutes of chatting, we both agreed that his name would be Everett.
Neither of us had known anyone personally named Everett, and that was part of the reason we liked it. If you are a parent and you have participated in this great task of naming a child, then you know the seriousness and weightiness that comes with it. For those of you who partook in this process, I’m sure you thought through a long list of names such as Mark, Frank, Leeroy, Scarlet, Bell, Tanya. While narrowing down the options, it is likely that you instantly thought of people you know with certain names and verbalized, “I would love to name our child after that person” or “never would I ever have my child share a name with that person.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In Proverbs 22:1 the author says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” Now the author here isn’t necessarily communicating that some names are better than others in origin. He is more concerned with showing us that the name of an individual who has a reputation of living a life of integrity is what should be pursued, that your name, my name, my son’s name would be names marked by lives of integrity.
Currently the name Athens Church doesn’t mean much to you, but sooner or later it will accompany a reputation. At the mention of its name, people will instantly think thoughts about the church. We don’t want to be the “pretty” church, we don’t want to be the “hipster” church, and we don’t want to be the “cool” church. We want to be the church that is sold out, carrying the message and mercy of Jesus Christ to the city of Columbus.
It’s been about 6 years since God first revealed to me that I, along with many others, was going to plant a church in Columbus. Over the years we have thought through different names for this new church, but we really lacked clarity on what it would be. It was about 6 months ago when we landed on the name Athens Church. I would like to share with you now the two primary reasons why we chose the name Athens.
It’s a Name Rooted in the City
We’re not looking to be a church for New York City, we’re not looking to be a church for Chicago, we’re looking to be a church for the city of Columbus. We want to be in the city and for the city. When thinking about a name for this new church, we thought it fitting to choose the name Athens Church with Columbus being a city that values the arts and design.
Some cities have nicknames, and Columbus, Indiana’s nickname is “Athens of the Prairie.” This is mostly credited to Columbus’ renown for architecture from such notable architects like Eero Saarinem, I.M. Pei, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli and Richard Meier. The architectural work that has been done in the city has caused Columbus to be ranked #6 in the nation for architectural innovation and design by the American Institute of Architects, right behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
It’s a Name Rooted in the Scriptures
We find the city of Athens mentioned In Acts 17:16-34. In this passage, Paul is preaching to the city of Athens, and in these 18 verses we see quite a few parallels between the city of Athens and the city of Columbus. We also see parallels between what Paul is preaching to Athens and what we desire to preach to the city of Columbus. I’d encourage you to read through that narrative found in Acts 17:16-34 and think through the relationship of Athens Church to the city of Athens. We will expound upon this relationship in another blog post sometime soon.
THE NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES
At the end of the day, we are not concerned with you knowing our name. We want you to know Jesus! Athens Church is the name of a local church which desires to proclaim the name above all names, Jesus Christ. We want you to know Jesus Christ and find life and joy in Him and Him alone. May every name fail in comparison to the beauty and worth of the name Jesus Christ.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11