After 8 church mergers and counting, we have learned a thing or two about what it takes for a merger to be successful. Here is our list of the top 10 things we have learned:
- God blesses church mergers when honor is present.
We have worked hard with every merger to focus on creating a culture where everyone is honored and God has blessed the process.
- Communities are transformed when dying churches are transformed.
A thriving gospel-focused local church represents hope, love, and purpose in a community. As a local church begins to decline in attendance, giving and a well-maintained facility, it’s light dims in its community.
- Empathy is the key to walking the church body through change.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In a church merger, the lead church has to be able to understand what it is like to be a pastor, board member or part of the congregation of a church that for 30, 40 or more years was a thriving, growing church, but is now for whatever reasons is struggling.
- Some mergers take time.
You have to go at the pace that the declining church wants to go at. It takes time for people to work through the various stages of change. A merger will be virtually impossible if the church body is not given the time and space to accept that change will be good for the church.
- Change is a catalyst for growth.
So often what we’re seeing is churches are struggling because they haven’t made the right changes to keep up with what’s happening in our culture.
- God does so much more with an open hand than with a closed fist.
Open-handed means that we are willing to try new things. We are eager to let go of the past if it is not serving the future. Our hands are open and ready to receive whatever God has for us.
- No unity no merger.
A divided church will not realize its mission (which is reaching people for Jesus, right?) if occupied with disagreement.
- Both churches bring something to the table.
Both churches bring key attributes to the table that combined created a thriving church that will impact their local community with the Gospel.
- Often there is a better role for the senior pastor that is not on the pulpit.
A church merger does not mean that the pastor and staff are released from service. If God has called them into service, then it is our duty to honor God’s call on their lives and encourage them to fulfill their calling where they are best suited to serve his people.
- A successful church merger requires both art and science
Science is the process that guides the merger and best practices that make the merger successful. Art is in how relationships are developed and managed.
Next Post: Going Deeper Into Our Top Ten List.