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Marriage 2023

The Why
Gateway has often quoted the phrase, “We are called to a city not to a church.”  When we are thinking about, is it possible for two churches to be “better together” than they might be separately? We believe it is. Specifically, we believe that by Gateway Church and North Valley Baptist Church becoming ONE church, we will be more effective at reaching the people of Columbia Falls and serving the needs of our community. Two churches becoming one is a win for Gateway, a win for North Valley and most importantly, we would say it’s a win for expanding God’s Kingdom. 

Click Here for a PDF for the proposed Constitution and Bylaws for Valley Life Church in Columbia Falls, MT


Click Here for a PDF for the proposed Valley Life Church Covenant and Statement of Beliefs


Click Here for our

Prayer Guide

August 28-September 9

Almost a year ago, the concept of this potential marriage between our two churches began to surface. The questions and conversations were never about one church rescuing or taking over another church, but could we be better together for the sake of God's Kingdom? Could we impact CFalls with the gospel more effectively together? Could we have a greater impact in the Valley and Montana together? Could we become a stronger more unified church together? Yes, we knew changes would happen for both of our church families, but the desire was for us to become something new as we might enter into this marriage. We want to keep our eyes fixed on impacting God's Kingdom.

The Pastor Search Committee of North Valley Baptist Church and the Pastoral Team of Gateway Church have prayed and met diligently all summer to seek the Lord's will for the proposed marriage of our two churches. The goal of such meetings has been to seek the heart of the Father and ask the question, "Is it feasible and possible for our two churches to be better together than they might be separately?" After much prayer and conversations, we believe the marriage of these two churches into one new church will allow us to be more effective in our own spiritual maturity as well as to reach and serve the needs of Columbia Falls and beyond with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


We are now to the point where we need to communicate some actionable next steps to see this marriage take place. We are proposing a new church name, a new constitution and bylaws, and a new church covenant and statement of beliefs. However, we still need your help in this process. We want you to read over these documents to see what our new proposed church (Valley Life Church) might look like moving forward. Attached to this letter you will find these documents as well as a prayer guide, we are asking you to pray and read over the documents as we continue to seek the Lord together. Below is the timeline for Next Steps for both Gateway and North Valley:


  • August 27 - Present the proposed name change, proposed constitution and bylaws, and proposed church covenant and beliefs

    • 10:15 am - Joint Gathering @ North Valley's Building

  • September 3

    • 10:15 am - Joint Gathering @ North Valley's Building

    • 11:45 am - Questions & Answer Opportunity #1 in Fellowship Hall

  • September 6

    • 6:00 pm - Question & Answer Opportunity #2 in Fellowship Hall

  • September 10 - Vote without discussion for the proposed marriage

    • 10:15 am - Gateway will worship @ CFalls Senior Center

    • 10:15 am - NVBC will worship @ their building

    • 5:00 pm - Following affirmative vote, our new church family will gather for prayer and fellowship


Additional Information:

  • ​Absentee Voting:

    • We know the impact that this vote will have on our future, and we also know some may already have plans to be out of town on September 10. If you will be out of town, we are going to allow active members of North Valley Baptist Church and covenant members of Gateway Church to vote absentee. Any ballot not turned properly or duplicated will not be accepted in the voting results but will be acknowledged as an ineligible ballot. Voting by proxy is prohibited.

  • Ballots:

    • Absentee ballots will be available on Sunday, September 3

    • Absentee ballots will only be accepted between September 3 -September 9. A ballot received after September 9 will be acknowledged as an ineligible ballot.

  • Gateway Church:

    • If you need to vote absentee, reach out to Pastor Bruce. You can email or text your vote to him @ (406) 890-5204 or

  • North Valley Baptist Church:

Questions: Hopefully the questions and answers below will address concerns you may have about the marriage. If you have further questions or need more clarity, feel free to reach out to us. 

  1. What is our proposed new church name? 
    ​​Valley Life Church is the proposed new name for the church marriage between North Valley Baptist Church and Gateway Church.


  2. What will be the new weekly Schedule?
    9:00 am – Sunday School
    10:15 am – Worship Gathering
    6:00 & 6:30pm – Community Groups will still gather throughout the week on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. 


  3. What about Sunday School?
    Sunday School will continue Sunday mornings, the start time will just move up to starting at 9:00 am.


  4. What is going to happen to Shonda & Regina (bookkeepers)?
    Shonda and Regina will both be kept through the end of the tax year so that they could help each other learn and grow through this transition time.


  5. What is a Transition Team and what is their purpose?
    A Transition Team will be a temporary team made up of 4-8 individuals who will work alongside the Pastoral Team to make sure that this marriage is successful. The goal is for Valley Life Church to work together as a vibrant, healthy expression of Christ's body, the church to impact Columbia Falls, the Valley and the World.


  6. When do you anticipate filling the Standing Teams?
    We would love to take the remainder of 2023 to pray through and seek counsel from the transition team and the pastoral team to consider qualified members who can serve on our Standing Ministry Teams.  If we had to make one team a priority, we say developing a Stewardship Team would be the number one priority.  The plan would be to utilize the current North Valley Financial Committee to help with budgeting needs through the end of the year as well as developing a budget for 2024.  Prayerfully, in January, we at least have a Stewardship Team in place to give leadership to administration and finances for our new church as we seek to develop the Mission Ministry Team.


  7. What will happen to current committees?
    We understand every Christian has been given a spiritual gift(s) which they are commanded to employ for the edification of the entire congregation. Understanding that command, our desire is to utilize the Transition Team to identify Ministry Teams that our new church will utilize for members to exercise their spiritual gifts.

    Certain committees are essential to the functioning of the church they will be retained but will operate as ministry teams rather than committees.

    What are the differences between ministry teams and committees?
    Ministry teams and committees are similar in many respects but different in others. The following table notes some of the differences and similarities:

    How will ministry team members be recruited or assigned? How long will they serve?
    Ministry team leaders will be recruited and placed within areas of gifting and passion and will be empowered to recruit other like-minded individuals to serve within their area of ministry. Ministry teams will compose and develop their own ministry vision plans and budget requests as part of an all-church annual planning process.

    Ministry teams will serve in their respective roles for a one-year term and will evaluate their participation annually.
    At the end of their terms each year, team members will be asked to complete a self-evaluation questionnaire. This questionnaire will include these four questions:

    1. Am I being Fulfilled? — or is it time for a change in my service?

    2. Am I being Fruitful? — and seeing “Grace Results”?

    3. Am I being Faithful? — in my place of service

    4. Am I in Fellowship? — with Jesus

  8. What will kids and students ministries look like?
    Valley Life Church will desire to make an impact on kids and students in our community.  However, we don’t want to just start “new ministries” too quickly so we will still keep Kids ministry on Sunday mornings, and we will all begin to pray about what Kids and Student Ministry can look like going into the future. 


  9. What will happen to Pastor Bruce and Pastor Dean?
    In a successful marriage, Pastor Bruce will become our Lead Pastor and Pastor Dean will become our Associate Pastor and together they will become our Pastoral Team to lead and guide Valley Life Church. 


  10. What will pastoral staff office hours look like?
    Pastor Bruce and Dean will keep regular office hours, but they also work remotely. They are available to meet with anyone who has a request.


  11. What will we do with Gateway’s current office space?
    We are not 100% sure what will happen to the current Gateway Office space on Nucleus.  The rent is really affordable and we are praying for wisdom on how that space might be used for Kingdom Advancement moving forward.


  12. What type of mission projects could we do in the community?
    The goal of the Transition Team is to help us select qualified members who can serve on our Missions Team that will help us give oversight to mission projects that we can do here locally in the Valley, in Montana or in other parts of the word.  We want to keep our eyes fixed on being a Kingdom minded church. 


  13. How will I retain my membership?
    Following an affirmative vote for the church marriage, each current member will have up to 30 days to review and sign statement of beliefs and covenant to become a member of good standing of the new church.

    After 30 days, a prospective member will have to complete a new member class, share a testimony of conversion, give date of baptism by immersion and sign statement of beliefs and covenant to become a member.


  14. What about an alter call or invitation?
    Valley Life Church will do a response time in our worship gatherings, but they may just look a little different from a traditional “alter call or invitation.”  The goal of every gathering of Valley Life will be to make the gospel clear and call people to respond, but it will also focus on calling us as believers to respond to God’s Word through obedience and prayer.  


  15. What about deacons?
    North Valley Baptist Church and Gateway Church do not currently have any deacons.  In this marriage, Valley Life Church will not pursue or entertain anyone as a deacon for at least 1 year following an affirmative vote.


  16. How will we make decisions as a church?
    Valley Life will be a Pastor Lead, accountable through Standing Ministry Teams, served through Ministry Teams, and Congregationally approved body of believers. 


  17. How will we be able to give to the new church?
    You will be able to give to Valley Life in a worship gathering, online or by mail by sending checks to payable to:
    Valley Life Church
    PO Box 2792
    Columbia Falls, MT 59912


  18. I am not going to be here, how do I vote?
    We know the impact that this vote on a church marriage has on our future, and we also know many of you already had plans to be out of town.  We are going to allow active members of North Valley and covenant members of Gateway to vote absentee.  Any ballot not turned improperly or duplicated will not be accepted in the voting results but will be acknowledged as an ineligible ballot.

    More information coming in the days ahead about absentee voting:  Speak to Pastor Bruce, Pastor Dean or anyone from North Valley Pastor Search Committee if you have further questions. 


All up to date information regarding our church marriage can be found at:

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