categories: church, future, global church, leadership
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October 27th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

24 comments (+ Add)

Should Our Church Merge?

LifeChurch.tv has partnered with five churches in the past seven years.

We combined forces with:

  • MetroChurch (2001) in Edmond, Oklahoma
  • The Church at Cityview (2006) in Ft. Worth, Texas
  • New Community Church (2007) in Wellington, Florida
  • Church Unplugged (2006) in Hendersonville, Tennessee
  • Journey Church (2007) in Albany, New York

A lot of pastors contact us asking questions about whether or not they should merge with other churches. Once they believe they should, they want to know “how” they should proceed.

I’ll share some thoughts this week based on our experience. Before we get into specifics, here are a few introductory thoughts:

  • Joining forces will be one of the most strategic Kingdom moves in the near future.
  • When the right ministries and leaders work together, churches can reach a ton more people than they could alone.
  • When the wrong ministries and leaders attempt to work together, almost everyone suffers. (We’ll talk more about that when it is right and when is not this week.)

Where have you seen this done well?

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Comments

there are a total of24
  1. Oct 27, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Craig: Looking forward to this series of posts. We are a split from a very traditional church and because we are not the biggest church in the county have been called “That” church. :) We have joked about getting T-shirts with “I attend THAT church” but so far haven’t followed through. We rent our facility and options are limited as we outgrow it. Best scenario: buy land & build or buy an existing building (only one to consider) or merge. But you can see the already preconceived ideas to overcome. We have not stolen any sheep. Any who have come have come on their own not because of us recruiting. What do we do? I hope maybe you can set me on the right thought pattern this week. Oh…sorry this is off your subject. :)

  2. Oct 27, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Oops…we are “now” the biggest church.

  3. Oct 27, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Obviously I have seen it done well at LifeChurch.tv; however I’m looking forward to hearing other stories!

  4. Oct 27, 2008 at 7:37 am

    For anyone out there having more questions on church mergers, please feel free to use me as a resource. I lead the Albany campus of LifeChurch.tv, and it was 18 months ago that Journey Church merged with LifeChurch.tv.

    It has been a great, amazing, and wonderful thing to be a part of, but the specifics could never be fully answered in the limited space of a blog comment. Anyone out there with questions, please don’t hesitate to use me as a resource. I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s comments to Craig’s posts this week.

    Peace,

  5. 5Judy
    Oct 27, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Been there…done that…have the “THAT CHURCH” T-Shirt…we merged when merging wasn’t cool…it was a heartbreaking journey for me…but I love the concept!

  6. Oct 27, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I can honestly say that I have only seen it done well at Lifechurch.tv… In the south it seems that being on a “deacon board”, being king of the mountain, and maintaining power trumps merging together and being a unified force. For instance…A church recently built a fitness and rec center for the “community”. Members of this church are now complaining that other churches need to build their own because it is too crowded. How sad!

    I would love to see more churches drop the country club facade ( join to be something) and choose to reach across the “aisle”..(wow it sounds like politics) and work together to IMPACT the local community. I am tired of the MARKETING… “most baptisms this year”. Wouldn’t it be great to hear…” LIVES CHANGED” instead?

  7. Oct 27, 2008 at 11:00 am

    hey guys,
    I really need the advice. We are considering a merger.
    It seems to be the ultimate kingdom collaborative venture…pride seems to be the biggest obstacle…
    fear is a close second…
    seems to me that the source of both of these negative emotions is known well by all…
    i will be reading your comments…thanks for the help
    carl

  8. 8Mike Cady
    Oct 27, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I think that in order for a church to merge, you have to have a leadership that is willing to check it’s “ego” at the door, and be willing to learn. Unfortunately, that is usually the exception and not the rule. Remember that He can do it without us, but loves us enough to let us be a part of His kingdom if we want to. And yes, she is my wife posted above, the brains in the family!

  9. 9Larry Mayer
    Oct 27, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I’m the Campus Pastor for the Wellington Campus of LifeChurch.tv. I was the Teaching Pastor when merged with LifeChurch about 18 months ago. Prior to LifeChurch we were a contemporary church that was 16 years old and we were an Elder led and staff run church.

    Our desire was simple—-we were not please at the rate of life change that was going on in our church and believed that God wanted to do so much more through us.

    The merge was great for us and for LifeChurch. We are seeing more lives change than ever before and best of all, we are not compared to any other church in the area. We are reaching folks that no one else is. Go God!

  10. Oct 27, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Carl,
    Pride and fear are a BIG part of the merger discussion. It’s kind of funny… the original Journey Church members took more pride in my personal preaching than I did. It really was a no brainer for me… giving up something I loved, for something I love even more.

    The ones that stayed don’t even remember who Journey Church was. Now, it is all about changed lives and riding the wave of God. Even now, it feels really wierd to be writing about Journey Church. We are just very forward in our thinking.

    Now about that fear thing: I’ve found that fear in a situation like a church merger is normal and only indicative of the amazing adventures that are ahead, if the risk is taken.

    Just some thoughts. I’ll have more throughout the week.

  11. Oct 27, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve been watching my friends at a missions college join with another movement. It’s been exciting to watch the emphasis’ changing while most of the government remains the same. Merging values and emphasis takes a high level of humility and creativity.

  12. Oct 27, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I can remember the internal fear that I had when I first began to think about merging. Then God spoke clearly to me and said “I only want you to present the opportunity to the church.” There were not guarantees it would happen. So I was just obedient to presenting it to the body and I told them it was their decision and they need to get before God and seek His will for our church. I believe people prayed and fasted like they never have before.

    We had a 93% yes vote and some told me they voted “yes” but they would not be staying. The believed it was the right thing to impact this community but the style was not theirs. Fortunately, there were 5 other churches in the area where they could land and make a difference.

  13. Oct 27, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I can’t wait to hear how you guys have done this succesfully. Were faced with an opportunity right now, and it seems like everyone I talk to says not to do it. I believe it can work so I’m excited to learn from your experience on this. Great topic!

  14. Oct 27, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you so much for the prayer, and I look forward the discussion. I agree, everyone says to me not to do it;however,I cannot get Philippians 3 out of my mind today as “i count all things as rubbish and refuse for the sake of knowing Christ…knowing Him and His definition of what kingdom means to Him…my definition is constantly being stretched…

  15. Oct 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    One year prior to considering the merger with LifeChurch.tv, MetroChurch considered merging with a large Baptist church in the same community (MetroChurch was non-denominational). A comparison of the two might make for a very good book on the right vs. wrong ways to go about it. I wonder who should write it?

  16. Oct 27, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I’m looking forward to this week….we’re an ARC plant that launched this past Easter and just acquired a church of about 150 people. For us we were careful to use the word acquire V.S. merge….. They joined our vision we didn’t marry the two. This past week was our first time having everyone together. It was amazing, but there are a lot of factors to consider and it MUST be a kingdom move…..if it’s not going to make Jesus more famous it’s not worth the trouble. One of my mentors who has acquired a few churches gave me great advise…NO SECRETS…

  17. 18Rob
    Oct 27, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Why all the merging? Resources? Seems counter intuitive to “reaching out” to me. I don’t know much more about this situation since I’m new here and there isn’t much info regarding it in the post but bringing it all together to accomplish more? “Interesting”…

  18. Oct 28, 2008 at 5:47 am

    I think most Aussie pastors don’t play well in the sand pit with each other…could be old fashioned pride, religious doctrinal differences or just plain old fear and insecurity of losing people to the crew down the street. We have a bunch of Pastors intrigued by our network partnership with LifeChurch.tv here on the Gold Coast… They are perplexed that we would share our platform teaching on Sunday nights with some dude in Oakalahoma. What can I say, it’s working for us and souls are being saved. Sometimes I think that we need to keep our eye on the end goal- to win souls, and use all resources God has gifted to the body to make it happen!

  19. Feb 25, 2010 at 5:45 am

    [...] more thoughts on “merging churches,” click 1) here, 2) here, 3) here, and 4) [...]

  20. Mar 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

    [...] more thoughts on “merging churches,” click 1) here, 2) here, 3) here, and 4) [...]

  21. Jun 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Im considering a church merge with a church in the same city (my uncle is the pastor and he is getting older and about to retire and has no one to take over for him.) the thinh=g I am worried about it this.. my church id mostly younger college aged, his church is mostly older people 6o’s or so. We are pretty contemp but they are very traditional, what do yall think? Just needed some advise. Thanks

  22. Mar 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Our church is in the middle of a merger at this time. Well, I say that, but the other church is actually voting on the merger this coming Sunday. We voted two weeks ago with a unanimous vote! Our median age is early to mid 30’s, the other church’s median age is 75. The vast majority of their church is for the merger but there are about five people attempting to hold things up. Five people may not sound like much, but when you only have 25-30 people voting on issues, they could comprise a large percentage. This is moving quickly, and I expect they will pass the vote on Sunday. While there are many things yet to do i.e. Constitution/Bylaws, I am trying to find a way, that through the transitional period, my pastoral authority cannot be usurped. This has been a problem throughout the history of the church we are merging with. I will be the pastor as there is no pastor at the other church. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!