One of our leaders shared a story with me recently. They were at a gathering where they got into a conversation with a family from East Derry. In the course of the conversation, the topic of Rock Church came up. The family was unchurched, but the husband shared that they had heard great things about the Rock. When asked if they had ever visited, they said they had considered it, but just felt the distance was a little too far to go every week. “Well, you know we have a campus in Sandown, right?” The family had no idea. They never made the connection between St. Matthews and the Rock. Needless to say, they were invited to our Sandown campus.
In my mind, this story begs the larger question of whether it is still the best thing for our mission to be known by different names. Like many people, I am a creature of habit and things that are familiar feel comfortable to me. But after significant thought and prayer, I’m convinced that it would benefit our ministry to be one in both mission and name. Now is the time to make the transition from St. Matthews to Rock Church Sandown and from Rockingham Church to Rock Church Plaistow.
Here is why I feel that is the right thing to do.
- It’s unifying. Words are powerful, and there is a unifying power that come from all of our campuses sharing a common name.
- We can share the ‘good will.’ The name of Rock Church has come to be known in a very positive way in our area. We are able to better reach our communities when we capitalize on that shared good will surrounding the Rock Church name.
- There is synergy. It has been commonplace in recent years for us to print one version of any marketing piece we do for St. Matthews and another one for the other “Rock” campuses. The common name would save time, financial resources and eliminate duplicated effort.
- It is less confusing. I know most of us within the church understand it. But for the people outside the church that we desire to reach with the good news of Jesus, it is less clear that we are all one.
When people ask me about the Rock, I explain that we are one church in many locations. Sharing a common name reinforces that message of unity. As we move forward with this change, I think it would also be helpful to know that this is not the first time. I know most people assume we have been St. Matthews for 180 years. But that is not actually the case. The name was changed to St. Matthews in the 1970s when the Sandown and West Hampstead churches merged. At that time we took a new name to reflect our new structure and to unify the people under one new name.
A few years ago, Zion Bible College in Haverhill changed its name to Northpoint for strategic missional reasons. For a number of months, people who had long known the school as Zion struggled with the new name. But today, everyone simply knows it as Northpoint. It’s time we take this step. I’m sure it will be challenging for a little while. But I am convinced it is what is best for our mission to reach and disciple people for Christ.
These are exciting times for all of us at Rock Church. We are seeing many lives changed through Christ as each campus continues to grow and new locations are being added. God is moving powerfully throughout our ministry. We are blessed to have such a large, diverse and truly gifted group of fellow believers that we can call family. As we move forward, we will work out the logistics. But for the moment, I would ask us to just begin thinking in these terms: we are Rock Church~one church in many locations.