So you’ve done the hard work of praying through a contextual church name for your church plant. Before you finalize it, use these 3 tests to make sure you don’t choose a duplicate church name.
This gets a little tricky since there’s several different layers you have to check. I’ll make it easy(er) for you:
The Local Test
This is the most time consuming, but well worth the 30-60 minutes it will take. Draft a list of every church in your area:
- Do an exhaustive search of Google, Bing and/or Yelp
- Get on church directory sites like Church Angel
- Whatever else you can think of to find churches online or offline
I helped a planter incorporate as Discover Church only to find out weeks later that there was a Discovery Church in the next zip code. That church didn’t have much of an online presence, so they weren’t easily found online. My planter made the discovery (see what I did there?) while networking with leaders in his community.
The State Test
Every state has some version of a corporate name search (like CA’s here) available on their website. Just search for ‘[name of your state] corporation name search’.
If there’s another church that isn’t near to you geographically with the name you want, you can sometimes get around that conflict by adding your city’s name (as in ‘XYZ Church of Sheboygan’). That may be technically different enough from simply ‘XYZ Church’ that you can get away with it. And so far as I’m aware, there’s no law that you have to use your full, legal church name in your branding.
The Federal Test
Search the Federal Trademark Database to be sure some other church hasn’t already staked their claim. Yes, a few churches have gone to the trouble to trademark their church name.
Unfortunately, the name trick above won’t work here. If another church holds the trademark for ‘XYZ Church’, that’s the part you can’t use, so adding extra verbiage doesn’t get you around it. Better pick your runner-up name.
I learned to do this due diligence years ago after a couple of painful rejections – I hadn’t done the homework and the State said in so many words, “Already taken.” I was able to get the filing fees back, but I would have forfeit any rush fees. And that would be especially painful when you’ve paid extra to get it done fast and then lost both time and money.
Save time & money by using these 3 tests to make sure you don’t go to incorporate with a duplicate church name. You’ll be glad you did.