Church names have a way of telling you either the time the church was launched or when they had some kind of a brainstorming session and decided to “rebrand.” For example, “First Christian” was popular among the Christian Churches in the mid-1900s. More recently, churches ending in “Point” are probably 10-15 years old and “Pointe” 15-20 years old. These days, churches are looking for one particular word, followed by Church. Renovate Church, Makers Church, and Canvas Church are just a few of the churches I’m working with that have started in the last few years.
One church name that stands out, however, and is pretty timeless is “The Garden Fellowship.” Located on the outskirts of Palm Springs, The Garden Fellowship was started a little over a decade ago in a nursery – a plant nursery, not a baby nursery. As the church grew they moved out of the nursery into a rented space, but in an interesting twist the church ended up buying land that was a palm tree nursery. So they were back in the garden.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of representing all of CDF Capital in standing before the congregation as they dedicated two new buildings – a worship center with offices and space for student ministries, and a children’s building – for the service of Christ and His Kingdom. With my five-minute window that I had to speak, I reflected on the church’s name and how it told a story, not only of their journey as a church but of a biblical journey that started at the beginning of time.
God reached down and created man and woman in the Garden of Eden, where He would walk with them in the cool of the evening. Unfortunately, that story didn’t end well, but God continued to commune with man and made a promise to Satan in Genesis 3:15 which has been fulfilled in the redemption story which culminates in the final stages of the book of Revelation.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.”—Pslam 23:2
In the meantime, we can have a relationship with God that is reflected so poignantly in the 23rd Psalm where we are told that “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” It is in those beautiful settings of nature where we can slow down and have our soul refreshed.
In the final days of Jesus’ ministry, we find Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had just told His disciples, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death.” Then it was in that garden scene that Jesus bowed to the will of the Father, saying, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
The Garden Fellowship is an oasis in a desert, both literal and figurative, where people can come to have their souls refreshed, to walk with God in the cool of the evening, to experience the redemption promise that came because Jesus said, “not I will but as You will.”
Shakespeare told us that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The Garden Fellowship didn’t build two buildings as an icon, those buildings were built to bring the sweet aroma of Jesus to their community and around the world. Their name, their mission, is simply a reflection of who they are.