DeKALB – For more than a decade, members of a DeKalb County church have been asking themselves what's in a name.
After learning what's in their church's name could be sending mixed messages to outsiders, parishioners of what was formerly known as the Evangelical Free Church of Sycamore-DeKalb decided the time had come to change.
“We're not changing what we believe,” Jones said. “We're changing the packaging.”
On Sunday, the Evangelical Free Church of Sycamore-DeKalb will officially change its name to Crossview EFCA, a move parishioners believe will show the outside world their church is focused on Christ and he is at the center of everything they do.
“The church name isn't for us, it's for the people driving by,” Pastor Martin Jones said. “If they don't understand the name, why are they going to walk in the doors?”
Members of the church at 150 Bethany Road have considered changing the church's name for several years, but it wasn't until Jones came on board more than a year ago that those efforts really started to roll.
“I don't think it's very friendly for people driving by,” church member Jodi Dirks said about the name that adorned the church for nearly 30 years. “I think it causes more confusion.”
After getting proof of how unfriendly the name might be, the change became imminent.
The church came to the new name after several months of research, which included church members spreading throughout the community to ask area residents two questions: what does evangelical mean and what does an evangelical free church stand for?
Responses to these questions – captured on video – made it clear the name was not giving an accurate picture of what was going on inside the church, Jones said.
People didn't understand that evangelical means the church believes in the teaching of the Bible or that the “free” part of the church's name means they are free from control of another body, he said.
In March, 75 percent of the church voted to change the name. In April, 84 percent voted to change the name to Crossview to show the church keeps the cross in view at all times.
Since then, the church has changed signs, church pamphlets and its website.
For church and name change committee member Matt Myre, changing the name wasn't indicative of a dwindling congregation. In fact, the church has grown about 30 percent in the past year, boasting more than 400 regular attendees.
“Some equate changing something with something that's broken,” Myre said. “That's not the case here.”
The switch also doesn't change the experiences of people who have been attending. What it does, Myre said, is make he church more welcoming, allowing more people to experience the love and care that drew him there some 20 years ago.
“I think one of the significant things is it will make it easier for people to share,” Myre said.
Dirks sees a similar impact.
"I hope this will be a bridge to the community," she said.