Why Change our Name?
On April 5, 2015, our church was born as Harvest Bible Chapel North Muskegon. Our church was planted by Harvest Spring Lake in cooperation with Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF) in Chicago. Every church planted through HBF adopted the name “Harvest Bible Chapel” for the purpose of clarity and alignment. We are grateful for the foundational distinctives provided by HBF which were rooted in Scripture and a vertical focus on the glory of God. In the summer of 2017, Pastor James MacDonald, the founder of Harvest Bible Fellowship, resigned from his position as president and HBF was dissolved. Then, from 2017 to early 2019, Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago went through a number of difficult transitions in their leadership that revealed multiple issues in the way their church was led. Given their church’s influence, our shared name started to create confusion.
Although we mourned the loss of HBF and the subsequent struggles at Harvest Chicago, our elders and pastors came to the decision to change the name of our church. In addition, the process of changing our name gave us an opportunity to clarify our church’s unique identity and purpose. Since our church’s birth, God has been writing a story through His work in our church. And we believe the next chapter of our story is filled with opportunity and continued Gospel ministry as we fulfill our mission. Choosing a new name for our church allows us to avoid confusion and be identified by our own character, values, and impact.
On September 8, 2019, Harvest Bible Chapel North Muskegon announced it will be called by a new name . . . Christ Church.
Why Christ Church?
Our new name was chosen with great intentionality. We wanted our new name to clarify both our mission and our message.
Jesus said,“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” — Matthew 16:8
The original Greek word for church is “ekklesia,” meaning “to call out of”. The church is the gathering of those called out by God. We are called out with a purpose and a mission: to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The church is made up of disciples following Christ who are going into the world to make disciples. We are on a mission individually as disciples and together as the church.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. — 1 Corinthians 2:2
We landed on Christ because we wanted our church, in its name, to highlight the only name we want people to know: Christ. We want to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified. He is the cornerstone. We are baptized into His name. The Gospel is His story. We are called to live by faith and grace, in Christ, as a new creation. No other name is higher. As a church, we are rallying together to make Christ famous to everyone, everywhere, everyday.
At the center of our symbol are the first two letters of Christ in Greek, the Chi (X) and the Rho (P). This symbol has represented the name of Christ for centuries and represents our commitment to keep Christ at the center of our lives and involved in everything we do. This is our identity: Looking back to what Christ has done and pressing forward into what Christ continues to do.
What was the process for deciding on a new name?
This was a directional, unanimous decision by the elders and affirmed by our staff. We walked through a careful process in consultation with numerous people inside and outside our church.
What if I don’t like the new name?
One of the things we discovered in this process is that it is far easier to critique a name than to create a name. Every name has shortcomings. Two people can hear the same name with completely different reactions based on their past experiences. Over time, a name simply becomes the accepted norm, no matter how strange it may be to someone initially. A name is important, but it is not ultimate. Don’t make any name a bigger deal than it is. Remember, Christ is the name above every name.
How do I explain this to people who ask about our name change?
Great question, try this when you are answering the question…”People were confusing our church with problems happening in Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. We are not connected to that church and are completely autonomous. To avoid confusion and to make it very clear to everyone who we are, we decided to change our name to Christ Church. It is important for you to know that we are the same church. We have the same mission. We just have a new name. Our new logo shows that we are striving to keep Christ at the center and in everything. We just want to make Christ famous to everyone, everywhere, everyday. Would you like to come to church with me?”
How does this change impact our relationship with other Great Commission Collective (GCC) churches in Michigan like Harvest Spring Lake?
Our relationship with these churches has been affirmed again and again. Nothing is changing in any way and these relationships only continue to grow stronger. We are not moving to more autonomy; we are moving to greater clarity and connectedness. In addition, we discussed the decision to change our name with many other GCC churches including the ones in closest proximity to us and everyone encouraged us to move forward.
Why didn’t we keep “Bible” as our middle name?
The central message of the Bible is Christ. Now, Christ is our first name. Don’t worry, our commitment to the authority of the Bible isn’t going to change—especially because we believe the Word of God is what leads us to the person of God.
Why didn’t we keep“North Muskegon” in our name?
Although our facility is located in North Muskegon, many people who attend our church do not live in North Muskegon. They come from all over the Western Michigan region. Like the first century church, we are called to make disciples in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts1:8) Our new name does not limit our reach geographically.
Is anything changing in our mission, values, constitution, bylaws, ministry philosophy or doctrine?
No. Same Church. Same mission. New name, only.
Do we still partner with other churches for church-planting purposes?
Yes. After HBF was dissolved, about 80 churches formerly associated with Harvest Bible Fellowship partnered together to create the Great Commission Collective for the purpose of planting, strengthening, and multiplying great commission churches throughout the world. Currently, there are over 120 churches in Great Commission Collective and more being planted all the time.
How is the Great Commission Collective different from Harvest Bible Fellowship?
Harvest Bible Fellowship was an entity of Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago. It was governed by the elders of that church. The Great Commission Collective is a separate non-profit organization with a governing board that is not tied to any one church or any one man. The Great Commission Collective doesn’t require a church to have any particular name. Find out more about the Great Commission Collective at gccollective.org.
Will we still sing Vertical Worship songs?
Yes. We pick songs that are doctrinally rich and theologically sound. We’ve never chosen songs based on who wrote them.