A New Name
Venture Church is the new name of Westside Church International. The name change was made on Sunday the 21st October 2018.
While the name of the Church has changed the leadership remains the same. It has taken almost 18 months of prayer and discussion to find and complete the change. The change itself has been motivated by two factors:
- Firstly, the Church moved from Weltevreden Park, which is a part of the West Rand of Johannesburg, to where it current meets in Fairlands, no longer on the West Rand (or 'west side').
- Secondly, we wanted a name that better reflected our vision and values, both now and as we build into the future; Venture Church speaks of our desire to live sold-out lives for Jesus, and fulfil his will in our location and to the ends of the earth.
New Name Announcement Video
The Road to Venture Church
Glancing back to gaze forward
As we reflected on the 30 year history of the church, recognising what God had done under the previous three generations of leadership, we realised that He wasn't finished with us yet, but that any new name for the Church also had to be a reflection of what had already been achieved, as well as what we were trusting God for in our future.
Multiple Church plants had come out of the life of the Church, with many other leaders continuing to serve Jesus faithfully in His kingdom throughout the world. Many people had come to know Jesus Christ, and grown into health, fulfilled Christians, not to mention the many signs, wonder, and healings that had had taken place.
So, the new name had to reflect this history as we continue to desire all these things, and more, to characterise us in the new venue.
The 'why' of change
Having taken stock of our history as a Church, we turned to the Scriptures to seek God for a new name. Despite the fact that God is the almighty and unchanging one (Mal 3:6), His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23), we discovered that unless we ask Him 'why', we don't know what He is doing. Then it becomes very easy to end up turning to other 'gods' like the the Israelites when Moses went up the mountain to speak with God and the people almost immediately turned to idolatry (Acts 7:39-53).
What's in a name?
When Jacob wrestled with a Man on the evening before he met his brother Esau, he refused to let go until he had received a blessing (Gen 32:26). In response, the Lord (who was appearing as the Man) declared that his name "will no longer be Jacob, but Israel" (Gen 32:28). This change of name then becomes the precursor for God renewing his covenant promises to Abraham with Jacob.
Similarly, Simon was renamed Peter, or Cephas in Aramaic, by Jesus, after his revelation that Jesus was the Christ (Matt 16:16). Similarly, both Abram and Sarai received new names (Gen 17:5 & 17:15 respectively). Even Solomon was renamed by God as a prophetic statement of his future and favour with God (2 Sam 12:25).
These name changes encouraged us to seek God for what it is that He is wanting to declare over the Church, both for our future and because of His favour. After more than a year of seeking and praying, the Lord opened the eyes of our hearts to see that we were to be called Venture Church.
Why the name Venture Church?
If you open a Dictionary to the word venture, you will find that is uses words like undertaking, risk, brave, and even audacious in one version, to explain the meaning of venture; it also states that the word originates from 'adventure' in middle English.
All of these explanatory words rang in our ears as what we aspire to be, and what we felt God was calling us to be for the Gospel's sake.
Once the name had been decided on by the elders it was shared with the deacons. We also sought perspective from several of the NCMI apostolic team members.
The resources below contain the preaching highlights of the build-up to the revealing of the new name:
At the beginning of the road to the announcement of the new name was a sermon that Ray Oliver from One Life Church preached about choosing whether we want to be Pioneers or Settlers.
As the next step on the road to revealing the new name it became apparent that we would need to Glance Back in order to Gaze Forward into the future that the new name would speak over the life of the church.
Next was the need to address the issue of The 'why' of Change. We discovered that God wanted us to partner with Him as we sought His face to understand why He was speaking a new name over the Church, and what this would mean for us into the future.
And lastly, before the new name was revealed, Francis Judge, the visionary elder of the Church, showed how God often changed people's name as a prophetic declaration of the future that He was speaking over them by answering the question What's in a Name.
Finally, the new name was revealed on the 21st of October 2018.