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God’s Doing Something New: Church Mergers

God’s doing something new. This Sunday, April 30th will be the first Sunday service of the merger of The Road and Chapel Hills Church. Our new name will be The Road @ Chapel Hills. If you had told me three years ago that this would happen, I would have said that you’re out of your mind!

Chapel Hills Church began over 40 years ago in a bar. The rich history of CHC encompasses several location changes, the planting of eight other churches, and a current 44,000 square foot facility which once had a congregation of over 1,000 people.

Three years ago, I had resigned as Senior Pastor at Mountain Springs Church and a group of us needed a place to pray. We had decided to pray 40 nights for God to show us His will. Chapel Hills Church had the space and we’ve never left. We’ve grown from a prayer gathering to a Saturday night service to a Sunday morning congregation.

Throughout this time, Bobby Sanders, the pastor of CHC, and myself have grown close. While skiing in Winter Park last year, Bobby and I began talking about the potentiality of a merger of our churches. At first, we both were negative on the idea due to the history of most church mergers. But during a 6-month “discovery period” it became increasingly clear that a merger was the best thing for CHC and The Road.

It’s a new day for church mergers. According to Leadership Network research, 2% of Protestant churches in the U.S. merge annually. That’s 6000 congregations a year! On top of this, another 5% of churches say they have talked about merging in the future.

My good friend, Jim Tomberlin, founder of MultiSite Solutions, and author of the very helpful book, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, writes,

Mergers are happening with an increased frequency.  And unlike the results in previous generations, many church mergers today are producing positive growth and admirable fruit. Increasingly, they are becoming a vehicle for unifying local congregations around a shared vision that’s producing more effective spiritual and social impact. (p.3)

The prophet Isaiah very well could have been speaking of God’s “divine makeover” as expressed through church mergers when he said in Isaiah 58:12, “You people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the ago-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls.”

I feel a deep sense of reverence and awe for what God had done in merging CHC and The Road. I feel that I’m walking on holy ground as we rebuild and reignite the kingdom vision of what God started so many years ago through Chapel Hills Church.

On the Road Less Traveled,

Steve

Steve Holt D.D. MA

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