Why Do Churches Have ‘First Church Of’ In Their Names?

OpenChurch took data from 300,000 churches in the U.S. and a surprisingly large number of them had “First Church” in the name. Why is that?

Whether you are a regular churchgoer or you are someone who goes a bit less often, you have probably noticed that many churches out there seem to have similar names.

If you are of the opinion that there are a ton of churches out there that just so happen to have “First Church of” in their names, you are more right than you ever could have realized.

Photo: Unsplash/teofilo

The good folks at Open Bible have a blog and they have decided to do a little experiment on the matter.

They used a sizable random sample (of 300,000!) churches. This allowed them to take a closer look at the naming patterns. As you can see when you take a closer look at the data, every branch of Christianity has its own naming conventions.

Photo: Unsplash/Joshua Eckstein

For example, those who are Catholic will usually use saint names. On the other hand, Protestant denominations are typically more on the descriptive side. These churches often incorporate the order in which they were founded and their location within their names.

Let’s say that the church is known as the “First Baptist Church of [Town].” These churches get those names because they truly are the first Baptist churches founded in the areas.

Photo: flickr/Gerry Dincher

“‘First’ appears in 12 percent of Baptist church names, 10 percent of Methodist church names, and fully 21 percent of Presbyterian church names,” Open Bible shares. In their dataset, “First Baptist” was the most common name. Out of the 300,000 churches in their sample, over 5,000 had the words “First Baptist” somewhere in their title.

If you take a closer look, there are also lots of churches that have “Second” and “Third” in their title. Sometimes, there are too many people for one church or there are instances when the congregation begins to split off into their own separate factions.

Photo: Unsplash/Sincerely Media

Once there are enough members of a particular denomination in a particular area, the numbers can start to climb even higher.

We were cracking up when we saw that the number had climbed as high as “Twenty Eighth” in Los Angeles. That makes sense to us since they are such a populous city.