For the past three years, I've had the privilege of leading a team of intrepid volunteers in creating an environment for 18-25 year olds known as MERGE. We've celebrated story after story of how God has used this space to reach out to people who are hungry for connection. However, tonight I told that team that we won't be re-launching this fall.
Since we began, we've implemented three wildly different ways of doing MERGE. Each plan has been birthed out of the collective vision of a team that dreams big and works hard to make those dreams a reality. This is not a failure of vision or execution. This team has been an ongoing inspiration to me in its heart for MERGE's mission and its exceptional sacrifice offered to make it happen.
However, the environments we create at GCC are never an end in themselves. Our vision isn't for ministry programs; our vision is for lives that are transformed when people experience the reality that they matter to God and for a world that is transformed when those people live in that reality and offer it to others.
MERGE hasn't existed for its own sake, but rather as the answer to a question:
How do we best serve both 18-25 year olds and the church at large?
After months of prayer, conversation, and consideration, I don't believe MERGE is the answer anymore.
A core group of people have found a home at MERGE. For those of us who will deeply miss our Wednesday nights together, it's on us to take ownership of our own community outside the walls of the church. Here's the good news: organic, authentic community has always been the goal, and we don't need a program to make that happen.
If you've experienced the best of what MERGE has offered during the past three years, please help me thank the team that has worked so intensely to make it happen. And let's take it upon ourselves to manifest the same type of community in our own spheres of influence that we have always endeavored to create at MERGE.