See this link for a fascinating story of a church that was on a long, slow decline and decided to give their building and property away to another church that was thriving.
Jamie and I have both been members at churches just like Midfield in the story -- once healthy and growing communities that eventually crumble for various reasons. It sounds like Midfield mostly had some economic issues (leaning on the steel industry) that likely impacted the entire community, including the church. That doesn't explain why the New Beginnings church was still strong, though.
Now Jamie and I are part of a church that was actually formed in a merger. Sounds kinda crazy after decades of church splits across all denominations, but it's amazing how much the context of a church's origin can shape the entire nature of the place and people. Ten years ago two congregations in Houston decided that there was a new, growing community in the Southwest part of the city that could benefit from having a local church. The two congregations sold and pooled everything -- property, buildings, furniture, savings accounts, and of course the members. Fast-forward to the year 2006, and we walk into the church and immediately sense that something was different there. It was founded on the amazing concept of coming together and serving the community, and doing it with common sense and compassion. That legacy remains today and we are loving it.
I'm still laughing about what my Aunt Lisa said last summer when she heard about our church's unique history. She shook her head and said, "It's amazing what's possible when people just act like human beings."
It is a lofty and noble part of the human spirit to see yourself as smaller than other purposes at work in the world. The people at Midfield Baptist church understood that. Hopefully I can keep it in mind too.
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