Unreasonable Established Church Gives Its Building to A Young Church


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What If God Leads Your Church to Take an Unreasonable Step?

Mountainside Gospel Chapel was established almost 200 years ago, in 1821, in the New Jersey borough of Mountainside. At its peak, the church grew to a membership of around 200 families as a vibrant church, which taught God’s Word and ministered in the community. Their numbers stayed fairly consistent for about 150 years. After that, things began to change.

In the 1970s the Mountainside Gospel Chapel started experiencing a slow but steady decline. The church continued to serve faithfully, but memberships dwindled over the next 40 years. Eventually, they found themselves left with only 29 members. Like many other small, older churches in North America, they had difficult decisions to make.

With only 29 members, they couldn’t continue to pay for the upkeep and running of the church facilities. So, under the leadership of their pastor, Dr. Gregg Hagg, they carefully considered their options.

In many cases, churches in this situation have sold the property to another church, closed the doors, or declared bankruptcy. Gospel Chapel decided to consider a merger first.

Dr. Hagg had been contacting churches in their area over the past few years, asking whether they knew of any successful church mergers. In each case, the answer was always a discouraging, “No.” All of the examples he heard involved two failing churches that merged, neither bringing vitality nor young people to the other and they together continued the slow spiral of death. The data about church mergers was not promising, but it did offer clues to the reasons the mergers failed. As Mountainside Gospel Chapel neared a time of urgency in their need to make a decision, they heard that Liquid Church was seeking a new place from which to launch.

Dr. Hagg knew Liquid Church was one of the most vibrant congregations in the area. Their desire was to saturate the state of New Jersey with the gospel message. It was a congregation of mostly young people and young families, many of whom were new Christians, or had come back to Christ after walking away from the church of their youth. Liquid had grown to over 2,000 members at multiple sites when Dr. Hagg contacted them.

The phone call from Mountainside Gospel Chapel and their offer to make their site a new campus for Liquid Church astounded Pastor Tim. Tim set a meeting with Mountainside Gospel Chapel to find out more. To his amazement, he discovered that they wanted to sign over their church’s facilities to Liquid because they were excited about what the young church was doing. The property that Gospel Chapel was offering to Liquid was worth $4,000,000.

Liquid Church had not been considering purchasing any property in the area. They had been considering leasing because of the lesser financial burden. By offering to sign over the facilities, Mountainside Gospel gave the young church a chance to own their church building in that community. The leadership of both churches met together and received wise counsel regarding the merging of the two churches. When Mountainside Gospel Chapel took a vote on the matter, the vote was 29 for and none against—the proof of complete unity and unreasonable selflessness.

Rebirth and Renewal

The members from Mountainside Gospel Chapel worked alongside Liquid in updates of the church building. In their minds, they were not merely handing over the church but also becoming one with Liquid Church’s ministry. On the day the new church was launched in the fall of 2013, the members of Mountainside Gospel Chapel were amazed and touched as over 1,000 people in four services poured into the refurbished facility.

“This is what we wanted from this,” said the original members of the church site as tears poured down their faces.

Both members of Mountainside Gospel and members of Liquid Church were blessed by the love they saw poured out between their churches. In just 13 months, Mountainside Gospel Chapel went from 29 church members to 1,300 on the first Easter Sunday, and they have continued to grow.

By being willing to risk a merger, rather than close the doors, Mountainside Gospel Chapel enabled Liquid Church to have a facility in the town from which to reach that community.

By being willing to be involved in the transition, launch, and life of the church, Gospel Chapel members experienced its rebirth first hand and rejoiced in it.


We’re celebrating more stories of unreasonable churches. Check out more at UnreasonableChurches.com. 

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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