Liquid Church, a New Jersey-based, youth-driven congregation merged with a nearly 200-year-old church last Sunday after membership at Mountainside Chapel began to decline and could no longer afford to maintain its $4-million site.
Under the merge, Mountainside Chapel, founded in 1821, gifted their property to Liquid Church to take over and "rebirth" the church for its community.
"In the last chapter of their ministry life, their congregation size had dwindled. In a courageous and forward thinking manner, the leadership of that ministry reached out to Liquid Church to discuss possibilities of a future together," said Kenny Jahng, media and innovation pastor for Liquid. "This came out of the blue for us, as a permanent location was not a part of our core strategy for how we carried out Sunday worship services and ministry."
The merger turned out to benefit both congregations as Mountainside, a ministry of about 30 families, gained an increase in new members while Liquid acquired their first property, previously their multi-site congregation met in hotels and a local school.
After 13 months of renovations and revamping Mountainside's original site, Liquid Mountainside held its first official service on Sunday.
"It was amazing! We had over 1,300 people attend four different worship services on Sunday," said Jahng. "New friends and visitors came and joined together in worship with current volunteers, community members and also those of the former Mountainside Chapel."
Jahng told The Christian Post that the merger occurred in an unexpected way which he recounts as "totally a God story."
"Immediately after our church leadership read Warren Bird's book, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, about the recent movement of church mergers, pastor Tim Lucas, lead pastor of Liquid Church received a phone call from Mountainside Chapel out of the blue."
He continued, "Initially, the thought of a church merger was completely foreign to us. But after exposure to Warren Bird's research and advisory as well as being led through a series of miraculous events, our leadership team fully embraced what was happening at Mountainside."
In order to begin Mountainside's transformation, Liquid church invested over $1 million in renovations to switch pews for chairs, install state of the art sound and lighting, and add jumbo screens to the backdrop of the stage among other revamps. However, the church's original stained glass from 1821 remained on site as a nod to the ministry's history.
Jahng also told CP the joining of both churches has allowed Liquid to engage more with their community, although the church is already known for their heavy involvement in civic outreaches.
"Mountainside has allowed us to see and privilege Gods power and plans for this community and the state of New Jersey. It is allowing us to reach into yet another county and help spread the Gospel," Jahng said.
To break ground in their community, the church is currently in process of organizing partnerships with neighborhood groups for service events. Furthermore, Liquid Mountainside will help facilitate over 10,000 hours of community service under a banner campaign called, 'Jesus Loves Jersey' later this month.