A name is important. It is an identity. It has the power to change circumstances. A name communicates.
Riverdeep Church. Why Riverdeep?
The first step with the church planting effort in downtown Memphis was to change the name. Why not stay with Church on Edge? Or even revert back to its original name, International Baptist Church? I hope to address these questions below.
Why change the name from Church on Edge?
The key to understanding this decision has more to do with a preposition. I know…I already alluded to Shakespeare and now I am discussing parts of speech (I’m really making my high school Lit teachers proud). But bear with me. The preposition in question is “on” as in Church ON Edge. If I were to say, “My boss is on edge,” you would assume that they were in a bad mood and that it would be best to steer clear of them. Now surely no church would be on edge, right? But at the very least it would give pause and require consideration to understand what the church name was actually trying to communicate. While this name was helpful to identify a street or neighborhood location (which was one of the intents for the name change a few years ago) it creates difficulty when planting community groups and additional campuses in the future.
A second reason we chose to change the name from Church on Edge was one of the church’s core values: Geographic Diversity. It is our hope that God would assemble a congregation from all over the city and that ultimately, the church would become a network of churches across the Midsouth. The name “Church on Edge” strongly identifies the church with the Edge District. While this strongly identifies with a community, it is problematic when trying to scale beyond the current district and footprint. When trying to adapt the name, “Church on Edge – Southaven” or Cordova becomes a confusing proposition. Therefore, to better communicate a welcoming environment and also to align with our core values, we decided to find a better suited name for the church planting effort.
Why not revert back to International Baptist Church?
While it is our hearts desire to see a multi-ethnic and diverse congregation come together at the church, it is not currently the congregation that gathers to worship weekly.
Furthermore, we are looking to grow the congregation throughout the Midsouth. In this context, there is baggage associated with the “Baptist” qualifier. While Riverdeep is a Baptist congregation that affirms the Baptist Faith & Message, it is important to understand how Southern Baptists became just that. The Southern Baptist Convention was specifically founded because of disagreements over slavery and the convictions of slave ownership. Although efforts have been made to reconcile its past, there is only so much healing that a doctrinal statement and resolution can offer. Sensitivity to this issue is important, especially when ministering in a city that is 60% African American. Because of the history and the culture, we have decided to not identify Baptist in the name. Our banner is not Baptist. Our banner is Christ.
So, why the name Riverdeep?
First, Memphis is known as the River City (among numerous other nicknames). Historically, its economy was directly tied to the Mississippi. The river has shaped and influenced the rhythm and identity of the city today.
Second, we wanted to closely identify with the core vision of the church planning effort. The three cornerstones of Rivedeep Church are to have 1) a Deep Faith, 2) Deep Relationships, and 3) Deep Missions. More specifically:
- Deep Faith – We desire to be people identified by a deep hunger for God’s Word in both our private and public worship.
- Deep Relationships – We desire to be a community–or family–that celebrates and supports each other as we grow in our understanding of God.
- Deep Mission – We desire to be a congregation that engages in mission work daily in our homes, communities, and occupations; first here in the Midsouth and then also out to the ends of the earth.
Therefore, the “River” identifies us with the Midsouth-wide effort and the “Deep” identifies us with the qualities we strive to embody. We are Riverdeep.
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