Well, not really. But there does seem to be a lot of name changing going on recently. One of the biggest changes as of recent is that Philadelphia Biblical University, my collegiate alma mater, is changing its name to Cairn University. There’s a lot of haters out there about this name and they give a lot of reason for why changing the name is inexcusable.
I don’t really care what the school changes its name to. While I don’t really think that Cairn University is the most intuitive, it’s better than a lot of other names they could have chosen.
Here’s where my alumni colleagues will have a problem….I support the name change. *gasp* (They’ve all just clicked to another page and returned to the rated-R movie they’re watching on Netflix.)
OK, so I’m a Communications Director. I deal with messaging, marketing, names, branding, logos, written, verbal, subtle, and subliminal. So, I completely understand the many, many implications that go into a name change.
I ask the haters…
1. Did you/your wife change your/her name when you got married? – If you/she did then aren’t you leaving behind all your/her family history and namesake? Are you thumbing your nose to your past? Flipping the bird at your ancestors?
I hear each hater saying, “NO! Of course not!” But yet, we’re OK with changing our last name, the one we’ve had our entire life up and until that point. Much like your maiden name, a college’s name has significance. But does your name make you who you are? My last name is “Weir.” Does it make me “weir-d?” (My middle & high school friends are chuckling inside right now.) “Weir” means a small structure holds water, aka a dam. It doesn’t define me. I’m not holding water.
(If you or your wife did not change your name, you’ve already stopped reading. I’m sure of it.)
People should know us for who we are as people – faith believing or not. Do you recall the elementary school bully by his full name or by how he made you feel giving you that atomic wedgie on the playground? The torrent of pain he brought into your life every day. Every. Single. Day. If I want to be known as a generous person, I live generously. If I want to be known as a caring, compassionate person, I live my life that way and I teach others how live that way too.
Correlation Number 1 – PBU/CU will continue, in my mind, to train men and women to live out the gospel in their lives, reaching people all over the globe. But not because of its name. Instead, because of who it is and what it teaches.
2. They’re aren’t the first. Churches have been doing this for a long time. By long time, I mean the last 10 years. Unless you’re living in the south or under a rock (where there’s tiny little ant churches), churches are changing their names. Why? Is it because they’re forsaking their mission? Trading their Bibles in for Sports Illustrated? Started playing only country music in their worship services? (By the way, have you heard the Alan Jackson hymn CD? Makes me want to head to the ol’ church house right now.) No, these churches didn’t do any of those things. What did they do? They worked to become more relevant and remove barriers.
My grandmother used to say that when all Christians get to heaven, we’re not going to penned up like cattle according to our flavor of Christianity. “Baptists are over there, second pen to the right. Presbyterians, you’re here on the left. Methodists, front and center. Catholics first to right.” What matters is what each believes at their core.
Also, probably most people looking for a church, faithful or faithless, don’t care what the name is. They care about the culture of the church. They care about the church’s mission to live out its core values. They care about the life circumstances that brought them to the decision to start looking for a church. Or, they care about the people in their community where that church has established a soup kitchen. In fact, if they saw the original name of the church – denomination and all, they’d probably keep driving. (There was once a church mentioned in a Ray Stevens’ song called the “First Self-Righteous Church of Pascagoula.” That’s a church I’d like to visit just once - strictly for entertainment value.) It wasn’t the name that brought them there. It was who that church was and what good they were doing in the community.
Correlation Number 2 – Removing barriers so people can see who you really are, without getting caught up in names, is a good thing. Especially if doing so, means more people are educated, trained and sent out around the globe to do good for the sake of the gospel.
3. Timing is everything. Now, I may not know about the specific timing of PBU’s decision to change its name. I can only speculate. But, I can say that I’ve worked through name changes before (and will be again soon – no, not at work). The Association of Small Computers in Education (deep breath) also known as ASCUE has been around since Ancient Times (for me, that’s 1964). If I were to ask you, what’s a small computer (when compared to a microcomputer or a macro computer) what would you say? Is it made by Fisher-Price?
I’m have worked, am currently working and will continue to work on the name change for ASCUE. Sure the acronym will stay the same, but the organization will be more relevant to those we’re trying to reach – namely those who work in institutions of higher education and use technology in awesome and innovative ways. (We’ll even take those that don’t use technology in awesome ways, and inspire them to become awesome!) I have a lot of work to do between now and June – when the full membership will be voting on the proposed name change. All that to say, timing is everything.
Correlation Number 3 – I’m sure that TJ (we are SO not on a first name basis that I can call him TJ, but it sounds fun) isn’t working on a name change just because his workload was a little light. Or because he just got tired of saying, Philadelphia Biblical University. Maybe he was continually misspelling “Philadelphia” or kept abbrievating PBU as “PUB” – which would be really cool. I trust that TJ and his team are committed to doing this right, with discretion and a specific timeline in mind. If not, that’s just silly.
Big Idea (not the company that makes VeggieTales) – Change is good. Name changes are good. But I wonder if the haters are scared of change. Scared that the bible college they went to is no longer the school they remember. (My hometown is very different from what it was. Hopefully, for the better.) Let’s have a little faith, and trust that PBU’s leadership has thought it through and is seeking wisdom through this process. I’m sure they never expected to receive hate mail or have people sign petitions because they wanted to change the name. (sarcasm applied.) Don’t be a hater. Be a pray-er for them.
My sadness lies with those who have to do all the leg work on the PBU-to-CU name change – namely the Communications & TS Depts. They are the ones who will need to redesign everything. Re-educate everyone on how to spell (and pronounce) the new name. They will be the ones having to convert 6,000+ email accounts to a new domain, change the website, verify IP addresses, and update every document template on the file server. As if the workload wasn’t enough, the Communications team must do so bearing the weight and grieving the loss of their leader. Timing is everything. If I were TJ, I’d probably have to take a step back and consider how bad my worklife might get if I try to do this without a Communications Director. I think of my current work situation and if a proposed name change were going to happen, heh, good luck. Not a easy task. Grieve. Mourn. Rest. Recruit and fill that role. Then buckle down and get to work.
TJ, PBU and the work-hounds having to pull this off, I don’t envy you. But I do pray for you.