Xenos to Transition to a New Name

Xenos elders are excited to announce that our church will be changing its name to Dwell. This was first announced at the annual Vision & Stewardship meeting on 2/7/2020.

Our church began in 1970, when a group of college students founded a Bible study called Fish House Fellowship at a home in the Ohio State University campus area. Since then, we have evolved into a dynamic network of house churches centered on mainstream evangelical theology but often bucking against modern church traditions. Our attendance now exceeds 5,000, and our ministry has expanded to include three schools, an internationally renowned summer conference, medical and community development work around the globe, and more.

We adopted the name Xenos in 1982. Xenos is an ancient Greek word for “stranger” or “alien.” It was intended as a conversation-starter and a way to emphasize that Heaven, not Earth, is a Christian’s true home. But explaining the meaning behind the name succinctly has proven difficult. It sounds weird and off-putting to the modern ear.  The name has become a distraction to some hearing the good news about Jesus Christ and the Bible’s offer of salvation as a free gift. We have been exploring the possibility of changing our name for many years. Now, in our 50th year, with a new generation of elders in place, the time feels right for a change.

This name change does not represent any kind of mission drift. It’s actually at the core of our mission to remove unnecessary barriers to people’s spiritual interest. 

Dwell is a more approachable word. It alludes to the house-church model our fellowship was built on. It can be found in many Bible verses related to our core priorities. God came to dwell among His people in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of anyone who chooses to be forgiven for their sins through Jesus’ death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 3:16) and builds the entire church community into His dwelling place (Ephesians 2:22). Christians are called to dwell on God’s word (Colossians 3:16) and the many blessings He brings into our lives (Philippians 4:8). The famous Psalm 23 concludes, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Full scripture references below)

Put simply, the thought behind the name dwell is:

  • To dwell" means to live with or among. It refers to our church's emphasis on sharing life together in community.
  • To dwell" means to ponder deeply or evaluate. It describes how our church carefully considers biblical truth.
  • To dwell” means God abiding with his people. The Bible teaches that God makes His dwelling on earth through the church.

Recently Dwell elders conducted a nationwide survey, asking people outside of the Columbus area (so they weren't already familiar with the name) about their reactions to the names Xenos and Dwell.

When people who had already indicated they were somewhat or very interested in visiting a church like ours (Christian, non-denominational, non-traditional, small-group based) if invited by a friend:

Learned that the name of the church was Xenos:

  • Interest in visiting decreased by 11% (a statistically significant decline)
  • The church was seen as neither interesting nor odd (neutral)
  • The church was seen as more welcoming than inhospitable

Learned that the name of the church was Dwell:

  • There was no change in interest in visiting
  • The church was seen more interesting than odd
  • The church was seen as more welcoming than inhospitable

Note: People saw only one name -- not both.

Dwell Elder Conrad Hilario explains, “We’re proud of our rich history and all God has done through this church. We don’t want to disconnect ourselves from our history.”

To honor that heritage, we are keeping “XCF” (Xenos Christian Fellowship) as the overarching name of our organization. Dwell — as well as the affiliated Calumet Christian School, Harambee Christian School, and Akili Christian High School — will be known as ministries of XCF.

Scripture references:

  • Psalm 23:6
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • Exodus 25:8
  • 2 Cor. 6:18
  • Ephesians 2:21-22
  • Philippians 4:8
  • Colossians 3:16
  • John 1:14
  • Revelation 21:3
  • 2 Corinthians 5:2-4