What’s in a Name?…
First Southern Baptist Church is now Good Shepherd Fellowship
Throughout history, names have been given to people and places with much thought, purpose, and expectation. The Bible addresses their worth in Proverbs 22:1, saying: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
Our church has been part of the South Davis Community since the late 1950’s. The church was started by a group of believers who thought this area could use a traditional Christian church which believed the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, complete, and eternal Word of God and that salvation is available only by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
For almost sixty years our church has served the community as First Southern Baptist Church. Originally, this name provided ready identity and comfort to those seeking a place of worship which is faithful to the traditional Christian faith. Names are serious business. We prayerfully considered whether our name should change. We held discussion groups, prayed, held meetings, and did extensive research. We learned that culture and expectations regarding church have changed in the half century of our existence.
The name “Baptist” identifies us denominationally, but people aren’t looking to be more “Baptist.” Like it or not, the name “Baptist” carries negative connotations for many people in our area. Some have even expressed that they would never go to a “Baptist” church. Why keep a name that builds a barrier?
Changing our name did not change who we are. We remain a church committed to the Bible as God’s Word and the truth of the gospel. We have a love and concern for our neighbors. We desire to share the gospel, to see them come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Since our founding, the heart of our church has been—and always will be—to reach people for Jesus. For most of our history, we called ourselves the First Southern Baptist Church of Bountiful. However, the changing dynamics of our culture motivated us to consider a name change.
We now call ourselves Good Shepherd Fellowship for several reasons. We believe the name Good Shepherd Fellowship builds a bridge and tears down an artificial barrier. We hope the new name makes our church feel more inviting to guests and makes us more appealing to people in our community. We also believe the new name points more to Jesus as the good Shepherd than to a denomination.
At Good Shepherd Fellowship, we haven’t abandoned our Baptist beliefs. Our church has Baptist roots and our theology aligns with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. We voluntarily associate with the Southern Baptist Convention which runs the largest missions, disaster relief, and church planting organizations in the world. We partner with Baptist associations, agencies, and other organizations to advance the kingdom of God. We don’t operate under a denominational hierarchy. Actually, we never have. We are an autonomous assembly of born-again believers in Jesus Christ. Being autonomous means that we exist and act separately from others; we have the power and the right to govern ourselves. We own our property, hire our pastor and staff, and make our own decisions. We operate under congregational governance according to the by-laws adopted by the church. Again, we haven’t changed who we are or what we believe; we have just changed the packaging a bit.
People aren’t looking to be more “Baptist,” but there are many seeking deeper meaning for their lives. We search for meaning in so many ways—relationships, possessions, careers, status, etc. The gospel of Jesus Christ gives life meaning. It is God’s gospel truth which gives life real meaning. The truth of the gospel answers life’s most important questions—Origin: ‘Where did we come from?’; Identity: ‘Who are we? What are we?’; Meaning: ‘What is the meaning of it all?’; Morality: “How should we live?’; Destiny: ‘Where are we going?’.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” and “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” [John 10:10, 11] Jesus gives our lives meaning and purpose. He died for us. It is only as we find new life by grace through faith in Him that we finally have real meaning and purpose. Our desire is to be a voice proclaiming the truth of the gospel in our community, inviting all to be reconciled to God through faith in the Good Shepherd.
We would love to have you be our guest. We meet for worship each Sunday at 11:00 A.M. Our Easter services include a sunrise service at 7:00 A.M. and worship at 11:00 A.M. Please let us know if we can ever be of assistance. Good Shepherd Fellowship is here to help you know the Good Shepherd and enjoy fellowship with Him. May God bless.