I would like to share with you about a significant event in the life history of our church—our name change! On January 1, 2017 Grace Point Church began ministering under our new name.
A bit of history.
I was called to restart Grace Point Church on May 20, 2007 (it was then Valley Baptist Church) with the hope of leading the dying church to new life. Through God’s grace, kindness and mercifulness, He has allowed our church to sprout to life again. My heart is filled with joy as I think about all that He has done through those who have called Valley Baptist their church family.
One of the first things the congregation considered back then was to rename the church, however, I didn’t feel that the time was right. I suggested we give the congregation time to come to life again before a name change was made. At the time, I didn’t know when that would be, or how long it would take before the time would be right. The “rules” of church planting and restarting a church said renaming the church was the right thing to do back then, but it was not the right time for us.
Fast forward to the present day.
I get nostalgic every May. I’m not sure why anniversaries are so special, but they are! This last May (2006) was my family’s 9th anniversary at Grace Point Church. Where did the time go? Anna and I were so young, so inexperienced in this new role. We moved to Valley Center with our 1-year old baby Gracie in tow and not knowing a soul in Valley Center. We came here alone and fearful in many ways, but sensed that God was the one who was leading us. It’s almost hard to remember now that we have so many friends and memories is this wonderful community.
Digging through the church files, I stumbled across the log of pastors over the church’s history. I can’t remember how many there have been, but it dawned on me that I have served as the senior pastor longer than any other pastor in the church’s history. Pastor George Farrington served for about 8.5 years and the others were a long string of stints from a few months to a couple of years. We have planted our lives at Grace Point Church here in Valley Center. It’s hard to believe that 2017 marked our 10-year anniversary at the church. 2017 holds another interesting anniversary for the church as marked its 70th birthday in Valley Center!
Through a number of events, the idea of renaming the church began to float around my mind. I thought it would be worthwhile to float the idea past the leadership team and to a cross segment of of the church. The response was overwhelmingly supportive of the idea. Two predominant answers came back: 1) “Yes! Every time I invite someone to church, I have to spend 5-10 minutes explaining that the Baptist in our church name does not reflect who we are.” and 2) “Yes! When I first considered coming to Valley Baptist Church, I was hesitant because of the Baptist in the name. I almost didn’t come, but as soon as I stepped through the doors, I realized my thoughts about ‘Baptist’ didn’t align with the reality of this church.”
While I have felt these two answers myself, it is the latter comment lays a burden of an unanswerable question on my heart, “How many people have not come to the church because of the word 'Baptist' in the name?” I will never remove the stumbling block of the Cross of Christ or the Word of God, but the word Baptist is a barrier that is worth removing.
Through surveying the leadership team and a cross segment of the congregation, the answer was clear. 2007 was the wrong time to rename the church, but now the time is right.
Why “Grace Point Church”?
When I conducted my survey for renaming the church, I had no name agenda. The question was simply about changing the name. I admitted I wasn’t clever enough to come up with a good name and was open to suggestions. While I didn’t have a name, I did have some perimeters—it had to have “church” in the name, it couldn’t be young and trendy like Doxology, The Movement, Ekklesia, Barabbas Road, C3, Origins, Elevate, etc, etc (all of these are actual churches, but none of them reflect who we are). As names began to be suggested, the word “Grace” occurred in a number of different ways. When “Grace Point Church” was suggested, it stuck.
In light of our church’s history, the word “Grace” is really significant. From 1947 to 1991, our church was actually “Grace Trinity Church.” Grace Point Church has a historical connection to our roots and rich history with those who led the restarting process—most of whom are with the Lord now. Personally, I am thankful for our church’s history and I think it’s great our new name connects to the past.
You may be thinking, “What does Grace Point Church mean?” This is a great question! If there is one thing about our Lord that has impressed me over the years it is the great theological truth of grace. It is by grace we are saved (Eph. 2:8), we are to stand in grace (Romans 5:2), and we are to be strong in grace (2 Tim. 2:1). The word grace appears something like 154 times in the New Testament. I’m fairly certain this is the most important theological concept for each of us to grasp. So what is the meaning of Grace Point Church, you ask. In short, this is a place where God’s grace intersects with the lives of people! I can think of no greater name to describe our church.
Is anything else changing?
Nope! This is simply the name of our church. The purpose was to find a name that reflects who we are as a community. Our church is and will continue to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention—and we should for many, many reasons!
Our New Logo.
As we have worked on developing a logo, through the input of many, a concept for the new logo has surfaced. A cross with roots and leaves. The obvious symbolism is the roots convey that Grace Point Church is one that is grounded and committed to the Word of God. We will not compromise on this point as long as I am the pastor of the church. The Cross of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith (Romans 5:1-21). The leaves are symbolic of the abundant life we have through Christ (John 10:10—among many other places).
In addition to the obvious symbolism of the concept, there is a second symbolism to the concept of the new logo. When I came to restart this church, I believe there were 12 people. All but four have died. I gave my word to these 8 and made commitments to them that will guide me as long as I am leading our wonderful congregation. As Paul paints the picture of being grafted in to the Jewish tree in Romans 10:17-18, I can’t ignore the fact, that I have been grafted into the work of our church that started 60 years prior to my coming on staff at Valley Baptist—this is true for each of us that calls Valley Baptist your church home today. If this becomes our new logo, I believe it carries a powerful secondary meaning honoring those who laid a solid foundation for the healthy church we are today. I can’t help but to think of Hebrews 12:1-2a, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” I imagine Pastor George and Evie, Loyd Beth and Carl Swadell and the many others cheering us on as we run our race as a congregation.
Please feel free to call me, email me, text me, or talk to me in person to learn more about our wonderful church family.
I am grateful and thankful to be the pastor of our great church,