is there hope for dying churches?


New Hope Baptist Church began in the early 1960’s. But if you drive by the campus in Mableton, Georgia, a suburb located on the northwest side of Atlanta, you’ll see a sign out front that reads “Vinings Lake Church.” Last year I had the opportunity to get to know Alex Swann, who serves on staff at Vinings Lake Church, and hear the incredible story.

In the spring of 2005 New Hope had dwindled down to about 25 people who were remaining at the church. They had a heart to reach the changing suburban community around them with the Gospel, but were stuck. So they decided to approach Pastor Johnny Hunt and First Baptist Woodstock for help because of their proven record of starting churches. To make an incredible story short, First Baptist Woodstock “launched” Pete Hixson from their staff, and started a brand new church called Vinings Lake. The “launch” team that started Vinings Lake was made up of the remaining people of New Hope, some people from First Baptist Woodstock, and others from the community that had heard what was going on and wanted to be a part of it. During the preparation time as the core group was meeting they also conducted an “Extreme Church Makeover” to the facility – modernizing the inside and outside of the campus. Vinings Lake Church held their first services on Easter of 2006, a year after the leadership team from New Hope had first approached First Baptist Woodstock for help. Today Vinings Lake is growing, has two weekend services, and is averaging over 400 people in its services.

In their new book “Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work,” Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird assert the following:  “Roughly 80 percent of the three hundred thousand Protestant churches in the United States have plateaued or are declining, and many of them are in desperate need of a vibrant ministry. Among the 20 percent of growing congregations across the United States, many are in desperate need of space. These conditions present a potential win-win for forward-thinking church leaders who believe that “we can do better together than separate,” and it is revitalizing church topography.”

Could a church merger be in your future?

Posted in Leadership

3 Responses to “is there hope for dying churches?”

  1. Craig Carlisle December 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    I am very much a fan of church revitalization. I pastor a 110 year old congregation and we have been through a time of revitalization. Our revitalization came through relocation. We were a dying church facing a do or die situation and our church responded to life rather than death. We are also partnering with 2 local churches to assist them in revitalization of their congregations, but we are not taking over and we are not merging. It concerns me that the only revitalization model that is being promoted by NAMB and now posted here is the take over model. You deed us your property and we will come in and create a little “us” and we will take your church to new heights. Why is this the only model for church revitalization?

    • Paul Alexander December 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      Great comment Craig! Church revitalization is an incredibly important issue and needs to be tackled by courageous leaders such as yourself! Unfortunately revitalization isn’t addressed in this post. But certainly merger is not the only option for churches that are dying or need a turnaround.


  1. The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of June 3rd | Brian Dodd On Leadership - June 7, 2013

    […] Is There Hope For Dying Churches? by Paul Alexander.  This post deserves a special thanks to Pastor Johnny Hunt and First Baptist Church Woodstock (Ga). […]

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