Many organizations have slogans. A slogan conveys in just a few words what an organization is all about. It’s meant to be memorable, authentic, and catchy. It projects the image that the organization wants you to associate with it. Slogans are marketing tools.
Should churches have slogans?
My church does. About a year ago, Westminster Church began using the phrase “Where you’re already home” on its bulletins, social media posts, and logo.
In one sense, slogans seem a little “slick” for churches. After all, it’s hard to distill two thousand years of Christian theology, dogma, and identity into a 4-6 word phrase. It might be especially hard for Presbyterians, who tend to love words. Presbyterians are more likely to overexplain things than they are to be concise. But still, we try.
Because we are in an interim period between called pastors, we are doing a lot of self-examination. As we prepare to search for a new pastor, we want to make sure we understand who we are as a church, how we are called to do God’s work, and how we communicate that vision.
At a recent “listening session” with the congregation, we talked about our mission statement and our slogan. What does it mean when we say Westminster is a place “where you’re already home”?
Let’s break it down word by word. First, “where.”
Westminster is not just its building. It’s more than the physical structure at 17 William St. We know that we can’t sit around and wait for people to come through our doors. Churches need to not only open their doors but also to get outside of them! We know that our church home is more than our building, as beautiful and beloved as it may be. Our home, and our love, extend into the community. God’s love is bigger than the walls of the church.
Next, “you’re.” Who are we talking to when we say you?
Basically, everyone and anyone. Westminster practices radical inclusivity. It is a core value that all God’s children are loved, valued, and respected. For many years, Westminster has had a Welcome Statement which includes this sentence: “We welcome persons of every race, gender, age, sexual orientation, family status, ability, and economic status into full participation in our faith community.” We are a diverse congregation in many ways, and we truly welcome everyone. To be honest, it isn’t always easy. But we work at it.
Next, that word “already.”
The concept of “already” is actually a very theological one. We believe that God’s grace is not something we earn; it’s something that’s already been granted us. We believe that we can love one another because God already loves us. We believe that we are claimed as God’s own in baptism because even as infants, we are already a child of God. So the one word “already” speaks volumes in our slogan. You don’t have to earn acceptance into the church family. You’re already there.
And what about “home”?
Hopefully, home conveys a safe, loving place where you feel like family. Home is relationships and community. Homes are places where you are loved unconditionally, where you can screw up but still be forgiven and welcome. Although sometimes we use the words “house” and “home” synonymously, they are not the same. “Home” can be anywhere one feels safe, loved, secure, and understood.
It's easy for an old-timer like me to feel “at home” at church; I’ve been a Westminster member for 40 years. Many of the folks at our listening sessions, however, are pretty new to the church and it is interesting for me to hear their perspective. Most said that they felt “at home” the first time they came to Westminster and that was why they continued coming.
We want our slogan to be more than a slick marketing tool. We want it to convey an authentic description of who and what Westminster is and strives to be. We want everyone, no matter where they are on their faith or life journeys, to find Westminster to be a spiritual home for them, a place where they feel the love of God and of others.
Maybe we should adopt a theme song too! The song from Cheers would be perfect—“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” That’s what we mean by “where you’re already home.”