As a church, we desire to equip others with helpful resources to do the work that Christ has left for us to do. Recently, our leadership had the opportunity to read a dynamic book on a subject that is often misunderstood and frequently unaddressed. We hope this short summary is helpful and we look forward to sharing some exciting news next week about Mercy Hill in conjunction with this book.
Tomberlin, Jim and Warren Bird. Better Together. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.
With many traditional churches in decline while church planting is on the rise, the conditions in America are ideal for an explosion of church mergers. In fact, according to many leaders in the evangelical world, churches merging together is happening more now than ever before. “Better Together” explores the ins and outs of this missiological shift and provides great insights into what makes some mergers work while others fail.
“Old math mergers were more survival driven, whereas today’s mergers are more mission driven. Also old math mergers worked toward equality between the merging churches where today’s focus in on aligning with the stronger church culture.”
“When people see the Gospel preached and working, there is no more argument”
“Successful mergers are vehicles of change not preservers of the status quo.”
So much (if not everything) in a successful church merger rests in the leaderships ability to be hospitable and accommodating without selling any vision and bending to external pressure.
In most cases, successful mergers happen when one congregation chooses to abandon its vision and totally assume the vision of another congregation.
There are many practical issues in church merging that need much consideration. Among them are debts, assets, governing polity, and membership assimilation.
The main take away in this book, and most books in my opinion, comes in the first chapter. Most of us have an initial bad reaction to thinking about church mergers and it is probably because we have often seen the mergers that got two things horribly wrong. First, they merged for survival rather than mission. However, in successful church mergers both congregations are driven most by an intense desire to see the Great Commission fulfilled both in their city and in the world.
They come to a conclusion that they can have greater impact together than separate and a merger ensues. Secondly, when mergers go wrong they typically attempted to preserve the “good” parts of each church rather than abandoning one vision in order to embrace another. Successful church mergers are not characterized by the parts of each church that are maintained, but the level in which one church is able to align its vision with another.