Church Collaboration

How Congregations Can Work Together for Mission

4. Blending by Rebirth Merger

What is a Rebirth or Restart Merger?

In a rebirth or restart merger the blending churches intentionally die (or dissolve in legal terms) to start a new congregation with a new up-to-date name, a renewed sense of mission, and a new public identify. The ELCA  uses the term "consolidation" for rebirth mergers.  Reborn congregations usually carry on some of the cherished traditions of their predecessors, and they provide a place of fellowship and caring for their long term members.  Their emphasis, however, is on a fresh start that will reach and serve people in the community in a renewed ministry.


Inspiring Case Study:  New Hope Lutheran in El Paso, TexasNew Hope in El Paso

In August of 1999 St. John's and Good Shepherd Lutheran Churches in El Paso dissolved in order to give birth to New Hope Lutheran. New Hope used the proceeds from the sale of one predecessor church to build a new sanctuary at the other site. At the same time the church experienced pastoral turnover. In 2000 average attendance was 84, a drop from the combined attendance before consolidation. Since then attendance has grown by 50% while population grew by 2.5% in New Hope's zip code. Ten of the 36 people who joined new Hope in 2007 were previously unchurched. To see more check out New Hope's web site:
           http://www.lutheransinelpaso.org/


Track Record of Rebirth Mergers

The chart on the Continuation Merger page shows that Rebirth Mergers tend to have a good track record, especially when compared to the status of the congregations just before merger.

Why is this? An intentional rebirth and transformation motivates the congregation to rethink and reinvent its ministry to be more responsive to the needs of the community. Through rebirth the churches present a new name and a new image to their neighbors. The transformed church is often able to build or remodel a building that is more functional, inviting, and environmentally friendly. The new church no longer has to operate on the principle that "we've always done it this way". This reinvention can change the direction of the church's life cycle from decline to growth.

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