January 27, 2012
In the fall of last year I sent out an email talking about the possibility of a New Name for our fellowship. This letter was a result of a discussion at our fall elder's retreat. Together as a board we had a sense that it might be time for a new name. I have had some feedback since that letter that some of us really like Southside - so it could be that is what we will remain Southside, or we may be given a new name in the days to come. Below are excerpts from the original letter and brief explanation of how we will proceed. Whether we remain Southside or are given a new name my hope and expectation is that the exercise of listening to God together will unite us more in our vision and mission as imperfect people carrying on Jesus' Revolution of Love.
WHY A NEW NAME?
1. There are good Biblical precedents for names being changed as Jesus interacts with his people. A few that come to mind: Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah; Jacob to Israel; Not my people to My people; Simon to Peter; Saul to Paul; and in the closing chapters of our story a promise is given that all who overcome will be given a new name.
2. There was a time when the Vineyard national movement mandated geographical names, and we as a fellowship submitted to the mandate. This is no longer the case. Vineyards may now have names that describe who they are rather than where they meet.
3. On a related note – our name right now mainly answers the question where, but it conveys very little of why we exist. Biblically, names often have a meaning related to God given dreams or destinies: Elijah – “My God is Yahweh” (Think about the encounter with the prophets of Baal); and most importantly – Jesus –“God Saves.” (You are to give him the name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins).
We have a growing sense that this is “a New Season.” This is a prophetic word that I have heard on a number of occasions. I have been really drawn to this Biblical theme. The psalm tells us that God’s mercies are “new” every morning. Jesus in the closing chapters of our story declares that he is making all things “new.”
Our board has a sense that this would be a good time for a new name.
This idea of a new season has been heard not just within our fellowship, but in our area among the other Vineyard churches, and there certainly is a new spirit of unity and cooperation among the churches as we look forward to planting churches together.
WHAT WILL IT BE?
Short Answer: We don’t know and we could remain Southside.
Longer explanation: But, I do have a sense that if we do have a new name it will incorporate the idea of Life. I am absolutely captured by Jesus’ mission statement in John 10:10: “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” The experience of many of us is that there is nothing like living life with Jesus. All of humanity is seeking life, but only Jesus offers Eternal Life. A quality of life now, and one that never ends. Many of us have discovered that he is absolutely right, and we echo the words of Peter, “Where else would we go? Only you have the words of eternal life.”
Another verse that has been crucial to me as I have prayed about our mission is a part of Jesus final instructions to His early followers: “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” There must be a “sentness” about us as a people. We are not just a people that are gathered to Jesus to experience life with him, we are also sent out so that others may experience the life that is only to be found in Jesus.
So I feel that if we have a new name it will encompass the life-giving dynamic of following Jesus and the mission reality that we have been sent to be life-givers who point others towards Jesus.
HOW WILL WE BE NAMED?
Our prayer and belief is that God, who is our Father, will name us or lead us to stick with Southside. Our work will be to listen together. The first step will be for us to personally listen for the Father's heart regarding a name for our fellowship. I would suggest fasting from a lunch and using that time to seek God's heart regarding the naming of our fellowship. If you have a sense of the Spirit whispering a name to you use this form to submit the name. We will close this phase of the process on February 9. The next phase will be the confirmation phase which we will begin online and complete at our family meeting on the February 19.
It is my pleasure to walk with you all.