VANDALIA — A church right in the heart of Vandalia with a familiar name is changing their name. First Baptist Church is now called First Light Church.
The name change is part of the church’s plan to develop a satellite campus in Butler Township which will be the first of four communities the church hopes to reach in the next decade.
“We want to reach 1,000 families in each of those communities with the Gospel,” said Lead Pastor David Starry. “The best way to do that is not to invite them here (Vandalia) but to go to them where they are. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 doesn’t say ‘come,’ it says ‘go’ and we have been a ‘come’ kind of church for a long time.”
Starry said that a study has shown that 60 percent of the people living in Butler Township don’t attend church.
Services in Butler Township will be held at Smith Middle School beginning September 16 and will feature live preaching versus a video feed common among some churches with satellite campuses. There will be two service times each Sunday which are to be announced.
Scott Snyder, who lives in Butler Township, will serve as the campus Pastor.
“The service and message will be pretty much the same in both places,” said Starry. “But it will feel different because individual styles are different. We will still be driving the same big idea. Our goal is to be one church with multiple locations.”
Executive Pastor Luke Francis said that part of the reason for the name change was having the city’s name could hamper growth in other communities.
“We were geographically limited so the new name is one element that will work in a regional way,” said Francis.
“When we launch in September we will have some signs that say First Light Church – Butler Township Campus,” Starry said.
None of the other communities have been identified yet, but the church hopes to open other campuses every couple of years.
Starry said the church is not leaving the Southern Baptist Convention nor is it changing its theological beliefs. Starry currently serves as the President of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
“We are still very much who we have always been,” said Starry. “The purpose is to make us more fluid so we can move into other locations. We are also not immune to the fact that there are over 2,000 flavors of Baptists in our country and unfortunately everyone gets dumped into the same spot. No one really knows who you are affiliated with and what the difference is between various groups. In moving into new locations, it makes it easier to say we aren’t trying to make Baptists out of people, but we are trying to introduce people to Jesus.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.