This is what Pastors Adam Schwenk and Aaron Evans realized when they felt God leading them to merge their two congregations in Greene County, VA. Both SBC of Virginia churches were meeting less than six miles apart with a similar vision of reaching their community with the Gospel. “The first step was praying and discerning if this [was] something that God wanted us to do,” recalls Evans. They began praying about the transition and the next steps that needed to happen.
After a series of meetings together, they asked the two churches’ leadership teams and elders to begin praying about this possibility. The leaders concluded that together more people could be reached, together more lives could be changed, and together more disciples could be made than if the two churches remained separate.
From the very beginning, we wanted to lead in our community with authentic love and passionate service. We wanted Gateway to be a place to serve others and love as Jesus loves. Impacting our community has always been our focus from day one. Our decision to merge with Legacy Church [was] just another step forward in this exciting journey to love and serve our community in even more ways than ever.
— Aaron Evans, Lead Pastor of Gateway Church
As more and more churches discuss ways to better reach their communities, the idea of churches merging may become more of a reality. According to Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird in their book, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, “Today’s successful mergers tend to be missional in focus with one church embracing the vision and strategy of the other church.”
In July 2017, Gateway Church merged with Legacy Church to better serve the community together. “We are a family of generational chain breakers who are building Christ’s legacy for future generations locally and globally,” says Schwenk. John 17:23 states, “I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me (HCSB).” These signs of unity were seen early on in the merger process as the churches hosted a combined community
It’s exciting to partner with fellow Christians at Gateway Church in this new way! One of the historic signs of revival is the unity of the Christians in a community, and it’s a joy to bring two healthy churches together. Our passions are similar as we love the community in the name of Jesus Christ. We look forward to this new season of combined efforts!
— Adam Schwenk, Lead Pastor of Legacy Church
Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird.