Hi I am Kirk. The name has nothing to do with ego.
When my mother was pregnant with me, she was reading a novel. The main character was named Kirk. She thought that to be a good name for her infant. It was nothing like how my wife and I named our daughters, which are biblical and family based. I’m just Kirk.
What mom and dad didn’t know at the time was the history behind the word Kirk. It is a Celtic word which is as old as time can remember. On Sundays people in Scotland all go and gather at the Kirk. Kirk in the Gaelic based languages means, “church.”
I’m not a Calvinist, but it seems to me that my name predestined my calling and life’s work. I have now been a pastor in one way, shape, or form for over twenty years.
After I left parish ministry, I bought a commercial coffee roaster and had a great plan. But then life got in the way: a move from the Portland, Oregon area to Colorado and eventually a divorce, which wasn’t finalized until I moved to Reno,* Nevada. I had to figure out something else to do. It was an easy decision, since I had paid nearly a half year salary for the roaster. Why not start not just a roastery, but also a coffee shop to go along with it? Nevada health and safety codes makes no distinction between wholesale and retail licensure. Off on yet another adventure!
I knew I could’t pull off starting a new coffee shop from scratch by myself. I stole Ellen from The Woodlands, TX (just outside Huston). We spent months trying to get the coffee shop up off the ground. We could not find a location; we could not find financing. But we persevered. We had at least two hundred tasks to do. One of the tasks was to come up with a name. We spent almost as much time talking about the name as we did on the other one hundred ninety-nine tasks.
We had a mission and a vision. Since both of us were pastors, together we settled on source, sustainability, and sustenance for shorthand. Source: where we get the ingredients; everyone in the supply chain makes a living wage. Sustainability: everything we sell does as little damage to the environment as possible. Sustenance: to give life. There was also a second meaning to these three words. Source: where does your energy come from? Sustainability: do you have community that will last? Sustenance: what gives you life? We figured early on that we wanted to do good in the world, and the coffee shop was going to be our primary ministry.
After going through at least a dozen different names, one morning Ellen shot upright in bed (yes, by this time we were a couple), and shouted, “The Kirk!” I groggily rolled over and looked at her and said, “What?” She explained, “You told me the meaning of your name. We are trying to build a church in a new way. But we don’t want to do traditional evangelical, knock on doors, get a group of leaders, have denominational support, meet in a school gym…. In fact, we don’t really want the customers to even know that it is a church. We want them to experience church and coffee. So, ‘The Kirk’ is a perfect name. It has a double entendre, your name and what we are trying to accomplish!” The name was set.
I’m sticking with the name, The Kirk.
*There is an old euphemism, “I’m moving to Reno.” It was when Reno was the largest city in Nevada, and Nevada had the easiest divorce laws in the nation.