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Inside a Significant Name & Brand Change for a Growing Church with Doug Garasic

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Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. You’re going to love today’s super practical conversation with Doug Garasic from Rust City Church in Youngstown, Ohio. Doug is here to talk with us today about a decision to make major name and brand changes at his church and how to incorporate these sorts of changes into your own ministry.

  • Can you change your church name? // When Doug began his church plant in 2011 in Youngstown, it was originally called The Movement. Back at that time, he was a young pastor and the group he worked with wanted an edgy, unique name. After researching they couldn’t find another church named The Movement, so they moved ahead with that name. But soon afterward the term “movement” became a popular phrase in the church world, and they began to feel that they’d lost some originality. Additionally, other churches in the state of Ohio adopted the name The Movement. In the end, this created confusion because people in other cities assumed these other churches were affiliated with, or campuses of, The Movement in Youngstown. It wasn’t long before Doug and his staff began to question what to do. Do you change your church name? Is it okay to change your church name? The answer is yes: you’re not married to your church name. The vision that God gave you for your community is what you’re married to, not your church’s name.
  • Does your name really work? // One of the issues Doug found with their name was that it didn’t communicate what they were. They had intentionally left “church” out of the name and over time they realized “The Movement” sounded like it could have been a gym or a yoga class. The vagueness of the name especially caused confusion with unchurched people. Ask unchurched people what your church name means to them. Ask if they can explain it to you to find out if it really works.
  • Slow down and take your time. // Once Doug and his staff decided to go ahead with changing the church’s name, they realized this next step in the process couldn’t be rushed or forced. They weren’t going to just choose a new name right away to get rid of the old one. The goal was to choose a name they could be married to for years to come which would explain who they were and what they were about. It needed to be an inspired name from God that could handle the criticism from people that didn’t like it, or they wouldn’t bother changing the name at all.
  • Don’t be afraid to get outside help. // Doug and his team hired an outside agency to help them with the rebranding process. During this time, the agency explored with Doug and the staff who they were as a church and what their big WHY was. What makes them tick? How are they unique from other churches? One of the strengths they discovered is that they love their localness and the community they are in.
  • Embrace your ugly. // Youngstown was once a thriving manufacturing area of Ohio, but now is one that young people flee in order to pursue opportunities in larger cities in the area. As a result this depressed area has become known as the “Rust Belt”. Doug wanted that grittiness and salt-of-the-earth feel to be reflected in the identity of the church. So they chose the name Rust City Church. With it’s new name, the church’s mission became: Inviting people in the heart of the rust belt to forget religion and find God and move towards a new possible. Don’t be afraid to “embrace your ugly” and turn it into something beautiful that you can own to reflect what God can do and is doing.

You can learn more about Rust City Church at their website rustcity.church. You can also reach Doug on Instagram @doug_garasic.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.