On February 8, 2009, our church was born as Harvest Bible Chapel Granger. Our church was the 37th of over 150 churches planted 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 biblical authority 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.
Although we mourned the loss of HBF, our elders and pastors realized this gave us an opportunity to clarify our church’s unique identity and purpose. Since our church’s birth, God has been writing a story distinct from other churches and ministries who shared our name. And we believe the next chapter of our story is filled with opportunity and broad influence. Choosing a new name for our church allows us to be identified by our own character, values, and impact.
On February 3, 2019, the tenth anniversary of our church’s launch, Harvest Bible Chapel Granger joyfully and confidently announced it will be called by a new name . . . Gospel City Church.
What does our new name mean?
Our new name was chosen with great intentionality. We wanted our new name to clarify both our mission and our message.
WE ARE A CHURCH.
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 of something and called out to something. The word always implies movement. As a church, we are called out of the world by the gospel and sent back into the world with the gospel. Our church is more than a building and more than a gathering—it’s a movement.
WE ARE A CITY.
We are a city within a city.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
We realize our small, northern Indiana town doesn’t remind most people of the big city. “City” doesn’t refer to where we live. It refers to how we live. Jesus has called our church to light up the darkness around us.
We are a city sent to a city.
Jeremiah 29:7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
As the world becomes increasingly hostile to the church, we may feel increasingly marginalized. Yet, as “exiles in a foreign land,” we will seek the welfare of the city to which we have been sent. Rather than complaining about where God has sent us, we will pray for our city, seek the welfare of our city, and live sent with the gospel.
We are a city longing for a better city.
Hebrews 11:10,16 [Abraham] was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
No matter how much we love our city, Christians experience a homesickness that won’t be cured until will reach our heavenly city. What keeps us going in the midst of brokenness, injustice, and disappointment is our confident expectation of a city God has prepared for all those who are citizens of Christ’s eternal kingdom.
WE ARE CENTERED ON THE GOSPEL.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
The gospel is the central message of the Bible. The gospel teaches that God is holy, man is sinful, and Christ is the only savior. Only those who repent and believe the gospel will be saved. Believing the gospel is not only what saves us, it’s how we make all progress in the Christian life. Every failure in the Christian life is a failure to believe the gospel. Therefore, we must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. And every time we hear it, we are responsible to repent and believe it. The gospel is the lens through which we see all of life.
What was the process for deciding on a new name? This was a directional decision by the elders who leaned on the collective discernment of the entire staff. We viewed this decision as an exercise in listening to the Holy Spirit, not an exercise in creativity.
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. (Think of it, who in their right mind would name a computer, “Apple”? It seems to be working for them.) A name is important, but it is not ultimate. Don’t make any name a bigger deal than it is. Remember, Jesus is the name above every name.
Aren’t the “GCC” initials used by other churches and organizations? Yes. But we would not expect people to refer to our church as GCC. We anticipate people answering the question, “Where do you go to church?” with “Gospel City Church” or simply, “Gospel City.”
Are we changing our logo? Yes. Designing a logo is a fun and creative process. We have started that process, and will unveil it to you when it is finalized.
Why didn’t we keep “Bible” as our middle name? The central message of the Bible is the gospel. Now, Gospel is our first name. Don’t worry. Our commitment to the authority of the Bible isn’t going to change.
Why didn’t we keep “Granger” in our name? Although our facility is located in Granger, Indiana, many people who attend our church do not live in Granger. They come from all over the Michiana region (and our digital reach is global). Like the first century church, we are called to make disciples in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Our new name does not limit our reach geographically.
Do we still partner with other churches for church-planting purposes? 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. Gospel City Church is a leading church in the Great Commission Collective, and Pastor Trent serves on the board of directors.
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. 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.
Will we require churches we plant to adopt our name? No. Our campuses will share our name. (i.e. Gospel City Church, Elkhart Campus). If a campus becomes an autonomous church, they are free to choose their own name.