Messy Faith,  Music Ministry,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings

Christ’s Church & Gospel Truth (Blessings from an Unsuccessful Church Merger Part 6)

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This is one post in a blog series entitled Unexpected Blessings from an Unsuccessful Church Merger. To read the introductory post to this series, or to find links to every post in the series, please click here to read the first post:

Free Indeed (Unexpected Blessings from an Unsuccessful Church Merger Part 1)

I’ve struggled to nail down a title for this last post, just as I’ve struggled to find a way to wrap this series up in a way that feels complete. My original thought was to title it with a phrase with the last of yet another song that is forever linked to this merger process.

Now this gospel truth of old Shall not kneel, shall not faint

(Unfortunately, Google isn’t a fan of such long blog post titles.)

The song from which these lyrics come is King of Kings by Hillsong. This wasn’t a song I was familiar with, but it was one of those “in the pipeline” songs (songs to use in the future) that our music leader had bought a few months prior because it was requested by some members of our music team. They played it as a prelude in December of 2022, an apropos time. The song details the life of Christ, from the prophecies about His birth all the way to His indwelling power within our lives.

In the darkness we were waiting
Without hope, without light
Till from heaven You came running
There was mercy in Your eyes
To fulfill the law and prophets
To a virgin came the word
From a throne of endless glory
To a cradle in the dirt

King of Kings was the first song from their church that we practiced, permanently intertwining its introduction with the merger process in my mind. I immediately fell in love with the song. It was a song that we used in the one “Music Night” we had at their church. During that service, we sang eight songs – four songs from our repoirtoire, four songs from theirs – rotating back and forth, with transitions in between (until we had technical difficulties and ended up having to share one piano and scrap all the transitions).

What was incredible about that service was how the well each one of our songs paired with each one of theirs, almost as though they had been written to go together.

King of Kings (their song) was going to transition into Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery (our song). I had recently lowered Come Behold from F to E-flat to make it more singable for our congregation. King of Kings was in D. I was trying to come up with a transition from D to E-flat that didn’t sound awful, but was coming up blank. Then, one night in the week or so leading up to the “Music Night,” at 11PM it just popped into my head – the perfect transition. It’s a transition we still often use when we still sing these two songs, back to back.

Come behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King
He the theme of heaven’s praises
Robed in frail humanity
In our longing, in our darkness
Now the light of life has come
Look to Christ, who condescended
Took on flesh to ransom us

The songs continue to step beside one another, their lyrics in perfect harmony:

King of Kings Verse 2:
To reveal the kingdom coming
And to reconcile the lost
To redeem the whole creation
You did not despise the cross
For even in your suffering
You saw to the other side
Knowing this was our salvation
Jesus for our sake you died

Come Behold Verse 2:
Come behold the wondrous mystery
He the perfect Son of Man
In His living, in His suffering
Never trace nor stain of sin
See the true and better Adam
Come to save the hell-bound man
Christ the great and sure fulfillment
Of the law; in Him we stand

Come Behold Verse 3:
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Christ the Lord upon the tree
In the stead of ruined sinners
Hangs the Lamb in victory
See the price of our redemption
See the Father’s plan unfold
Bringing many sons to glory
Grace unmeasured, love untold

Both songs then move to verses about the power of Christ’s resurrection:

King of Kings Verse 3:
And the morning that You rose
All of heaven held its breath
Till that stone was moved for good
For the Lamb had conquered death
And the dead rose from their tombs
And the angels stood in awe
For the souls of all who’d come
To the Father are restored

Come Behold Verse 4:
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain Him
Praise the Lord; He is alive!
What a foretaste of deliverance
How unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected
As we will be when he comes

But it’s this final verse of King of Kings where I want to stop for a moment to wrap up this series.

And the Church of Christ was born
{WHEN} the Spirit lit the flame
Now this gospel truth of old
Shall not kneel, shall not faint
By His blood and in His name
In His freedom I am free
For the love of Jesus Christ
Who has resurrected me

I found out only this morning that we had changed the word “then” to “when” in this verse, for this reason:

It’s one of those things that makes a huge difference even though one almost doesn’t notice it if they’re just “in the song.”

It basically discounts the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the establishment of the church entirely – and the importance of the Holy Spirit post-resurrection entirely. If the Church was born and THEN the Holy Spirit came, the Church was born on its own accord and the entire story of Pentecost and Peter’s sermon with 3,000 converts is superflouous. 

This is why I care so much about lyrics. The things that feel subtle can have huge impact on someone’s understanding of theology.

~GBC Music Coordinator

I was already planning on speaking about the role of the Holy Spirit in this post, so this fits in perfectly.

What made “the church” – and what makes it today? It is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel truth of Jesus Christ (His atoning death, burial, and resurrection) that unite us.

Since the time that “the Spirit lit the flame” and “the church of Christ was born,” it has endured. And it will continue to endure. In spite of persecution, faction, and even deconstruction, it has endured.

Now this gospel truth of old Shall not kneel, shall not faint

In my last post, I shared something that our then-12-year-old wrote about the merger process. Along the process, one big question many had was, “What will we name the merged church?” This was his opinion on the subject, the closing paragraph of his writing assignment:

If I were to name it, I would name it Christ’s Church, because God wants us to be the church of Christ. If we do merge, I’m looking forward to our congregation growing by more people coming to our church. In doing so, they have a better chance of church members encouraging and helping them commit themselves to Christ. I am very much hoping that this merger goes through, because I believe that it will serve as a wonderful chance to bring many people to Christ. 

Our preteen son understood that we were – and still are – one church.


Throughout the merger conversation there speedbumps in the process. Their church had more “checkpoint” votes along the way than ours did. So there were two occasions where we were waiting on news from them, and wondering…

Will the conversation continue?

On one of these occasions, I was sweeping my school room floor, praying for the process. At one point, I found myself praying something along the lines of, “God, please don’t let the purposes of selfish people get in the way of what you are trying to do.” Almost immediately, I was hit with my folly. God’s purposes will stand, in spite of people. We can’t stop His purposes. He is sovereign.

In all things, God is able… Love has a bigger table

Now this gospel truth of old Shall not kneel, shall not faint

I believe that if God had wanted this merger to happen, it would have happened. It didn’t. So, I have to believe that He didn’t want it to happen.

The question then arises – why did it all happen to begin with? Wouldn’t it have been easier if our congregations had never even met and gone through this ordeal, only to part ways? My human heart says, yes. My human heart doesn’t understand why any of this had to happen.

But I have to believe that some good things came out of it. I believe God had our churches go through this so that each one of us would face our selfish hearts. (I know I had to face mine.) Both of our congregations needed to be challenged with new ideas and beliefs in how we “do church.” We needed to see that others in community are not our competition. It is my hope and prayer that these hard-learned lessons will continue to effect change in both of our congregations.

Throughout the process it was said on more than one occassion how important this merger was to our community, and how the gospel would be furthered by two churches coming together and working as one. I believe that would have been true. That said, I still believe this:

Now this gospel truth of old Shall not kneel, shall not faint

God doesn’t need our merged church to further the gospel. God needs individuals who are surrendered to Him, walking alongside one another in a Godward direction. He needs the church to be the church.

Our pastor preached through the book of Acts from October of 2020 through February of 2022. As we worked through the birth of the church – we saw all of the amazing things that happened, the miracles that were performed, and the gospel that was spread. Our pastor reminded us over and over:

“We are the same church, with the same mission, and we have the same indwelling power of the Holy Spirit within us.”


In closing, I want to remind all who read here that I speak for myself and myself alone. There’s so many things here that I could not write about. I know that the many things left unspoken have also left many with hurting hearts, anger, frustration, and no sense of any real closure. It is not at all my intention to minimize the feelings or emotions of others. Each member of both congregations is on their own path of finding peace and healing after a challenging process. I only hope that the posts I have written here have given all who read things to think about and words to express things that perhaps they didn’t even realize they were feeling.

Above all, I pray that we will all remember this:

“We are the same church, with the same mission, and we have the same indwelling power of the Holy Spirit within us.”

Now this gospel truth of old Shall not kneel, shall not faint

Blessings from an Unsuccessful Church Merger | I will be speaking about how events during the church merger conversation intersected with things God was teaching me and my family at the time. I hope to encourage every believer in the areas of unity within the body of Christ, personal and corporate worship, Christian hospitality, and - above all - the glory of God and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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