Well, It’s happened again. Mennonite Media has now become “Third Way Media”. After consulting a branding/fundraising firm, they suggested that they more closely align with their very popular website “Third Way Cafe”.
Yeah, I understand that Mennonite Media is a for profit company that’s trying to make money. Yeah, I understand that if you’ve got something that’s already popular it’s advantageous to alight with that. Yeah, I understand that they’ve had lots of names in the past and changing names isn’t particularly a new thing. But here’s my question, why, once again, is the name “Mennonite” seen as undesirable? At the core of this change, no matter how you dress it up or justify it, is that “Mennonite”=decreased revenue/interest/members/voice/instert-whatever-you-want-here. Basically, it’s a stumbling block.
A while back I worked for an organization called United Methodist Youthville. The are/were originally started as a ministry of the United Methodist Church to reach out to, and take care of, abused and dysfunctional children in the central Kansas area. When I was working there we all recieved a letter informing us that the organization would be changing it’s doing business as name to simply “Youthville”. Looking back on it, the organization had already become one that was less of a religious organization and more of a social services organization. Maybe the name change simply named the shift that had already happened. Maybe in hastened the shift away from the faith. Either way, clearly someone thought that having “United Methodist” in the name was a hindrance to the organization.
Now I get that there are certain situations in which identifying as a Christian can hinder the Gospel. At Youthville there were kids that were so abused by other “christians” that I never identified myself as a pastor because the would completely shut down. On the other hand. What is the role of re-claiming and re-shaping peoples misguided perceptions of what it means to be a Christian or a Mennonite. Mennonite Media has produced some top notch videos and resources that have aired on national television. It’s a safe thing to say that their productions have gained more national prominence that MCUSA or MCCanada ever have. And at the end of each of those videos they say “Produced by Mennonite Media”. At the very least it provides the people watching with the opportunity to say, “huh, Mennonites produced this?” or “Who are Mennonites?”. Now, all they’ll get is a tagline of another generic production company with the title, “Third Way Media”.
Maybe this isn’t a big deal. But maybe it’s part of a larger trend that simply reinforces the stereotype that being Mennonite is irrelevant, a hindrance to “true” faith, somehow different than being Christian and all around an undesirable thing. That both angers and saddens me. For the record though, I will continue to support Mennonite Media/Third Way Media. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t say anything.
See the full article here