Why we changed our name:
When our church was started in 1931, God had moved on a group of people to begin a church in Cherokee County. This church was Sunnyside Church, and it was started in people’s homes from a passion and desire to see people come to faith in Christ and grow to be like Him. God had something significant in store for this church then and that has not changed. We will not leave that heart and spirit behind. As matter of fact, we will carry it on with the same passion and desire.
A couple of years ago, I attended a church conference. A few days after that conference,
I felt the Lord say to me, “Lance, if you don’t keep growing in your faith and leadership, you will lose your effectiveness and the church you lead will suffer." This started a process in me of personal growth. From this, the Lord began to deal with me about our church and what He wanted to accomplish here. I began praying and fasting. In my praying and fasting, I began to sense that a church name was coming. I continued to pray and sought counsel of trusted colleagues and the leader over me. Multiple times I have received confirmation that this is the right course of action for our church. I have a strong sense that God is going to do something significant with this church. I believe it’s so big that we can’t even fathom what it is. I believe God wants this church to have not only a local but a global impact.
In John 10:10, we see the outcome that Christ has in mind for every believer. Many of you have the same testimony about this church. You came and when you did you experienced the love of Christ in a genuine way. This love kept you here. What about those who will never give us a shot at loving them the same way you were loved because of our name? My concern is the name on the sign out there has become an obstacle to many. In what way pastor? How do you know this pastor? The pattern of feedback that I have received from many is this: “I didn’t know that was a church. I thought it was a retirement home.” I had one person tell me that before they came for the first time. They thought because of the name they would feel out of place as a younger couple and feared that the church would have nothing for their children.
The other image that comes to people’s minds when they hear our name is eggs. I want to pose a question here. What do we want people to think of when they hear our church name? Our identity as a church is wrapped up in what God wants us to accomplish. Their attention should be focused on our mission. Our mission is to love God and love people, to grow in God’s character, to serve others, and to reach our community by sharing God’s message. A name change will give more clarity to those outside the four walls of our church that the passion that sparked the birth of this church is the passion that will keep us going and then some. A name change clarifies our mission and our identity as a church.
Names were significant in the bible.
The same creative and powerful words that gave life to the universe and man spoke life
into names in the Old Testament. A person’s name is his life force. The Lord would give the parents basically a spirit of prophecy to choose their name. This is because a name is intrinsically connected with the essence of the child and is a critical component of the person’s makeup. Thus, when God changed a name it was a big deal and it was an indication He was up to something big.
Names represented God’s purpose or mission for individuals.
This is the reason for the name changes of Abraham, Sarah and Joshua. All of them were about to embark on an entirely new life-mission that required a new, different measure of Godly energy. And so, their previous names were insufficient to empower them in fulfilling this new mission and had to be changed. God gave Abraham a promise that he would have a son. Abraham had faith that God would fulfill that promise. God changed his name in preparation for the promised fulfillment. God changed Abram-meaning High Father to Abraham-meaning father of all nations (Genesis 17:5-7). His impact would go from local to global. Saul, a Pharisee and terrorist who sought to kill Christians, had an encounter with the risen Christ and became the greatest missionary ever. His name was changed to Paul. The Holy Spirit used him to write the majority of the New Testament. What do they have in common? God changed their name before he used them significantly to fulfill his purpose not just for them but for the kingdom of God. Do you see a pattern emerging? Every time God wanted to do something significant in a person he changed their name.
Pastor Lance Turner