by Josh Bryant
I occasionally hear hesitation regarding church mergers when I talk about them. A degree of hesitation is a great thing. Churches cannot go into a merger without a healthy amount of cautious reluctance. When churches do not have a level of caution, details are often overlooked and problems can arise later on down the road. I take no issue when this is the motive of hesitation.
However, sometimes the motive is less appropriate. Sometimes the hesitation comes from more concern with a leader's job than from a concern for God's Kingdom. Sometimes it comes from a sentimental attachment to the building or the church's name. Sometimes it just comes from one of the church's C.A.V.E. dwellers (those who are Constantly Against Virtually Everything). Jobs, buildings, and church names are not unreasonable concerns unless they override the best interests of the church and its desire to be effective for God's Kingdom in their city. Instead of focusing on why detractors are wrong (because sometimes they are not), here are a few reasons why church mergers are right.
1. Many churches cannot financially sustain the building that houses them. In fact, 61% of church buildings in the United States house congregations that cannot maintain their building. That equates to billions of dollars in deferred maintenance. When two of these churches merge and move into one facility, the other facility can be sold. The funds from the sale and the joint tithe revenue is used to catch up on the maintenance of the other building. Rather than two churches closing their doors for lack of a habitable building, they work together to provide their community with a well maintained place of worship.
Rather than two churches closing their doors for lack of a habitable building, they work together to provide their community with a well maintained place of worship.
2. Some churches have a hard time keeping a pastor. There are any number of reasons for this. If the church can't keep up the building then it probably cannot pay a pastor well. Sometimes pastors just get burned out when like more than 70% of churches in the U.S. their church is declining. Sometimes there are divisions in the church that keep a pastor from settling in. For whatever reason, the church has a deficit in leadership and a merger is a great way to fill that void.
3. Some visions are too big for one church. God doesn't dream, but if He did He'd dream big. Sometimes He gives churches an assignment that is impossible. However, if they come along side another church and partner together they can do exactly what God called them to do. They combine their financial resources to reach the nations. Maybe they combine their volunteer power to reach their city. Sometimes they just combine their staffs to become a multisite church and grow their influence. Either way, they are better together.
Sometimes God gives churches an assignment that is impossible until they partner together.
Church General Counsel Managing Attorney Josh Bryant, J.D., M.Div., authors most of the posts in this section. From time to time, he will post articles from others in the field of church growth, administration, and operations.