The New Math of Mergers
Arizona pastor Justin Anderson experienced a three-church merger in late 2010 and early 2011. The merger tripled the size of his church and left them all with a new structure, new leadership, and new name—Redemption Church (www.redemptionaz.com). Though painful at times, Justin insists it was the right pathway to pursue. “We are better together than we were apart,” Justin says. “When it comes to vision, ideas, leadership, resources, and prayer, 1 + 1 + 1 = 10.”
That’s the new math of mergers. And it had such a positive outcome that a year later, Redemption Church did a fourth merger. And they plan for more in the coming years.
Justin Anderson’s experience with church mergers is only one of many people who report it as a big win. In a Leadership Network survey, one Ohio pastor said, “The question the merger hinged upon for us was this: ‘Could we reach the next two hundred people in our community faster together or separate?’ When both pastors answered ‘together,’ it seemed unfaithful to do anything but merge.” After praying, fasting, discussing with a pastoral coach, and then obtaining highly supportive votes by both congregations and their boards, these two churches from the same denomination merged—one with an attendance of 150 and the other 55.
The survey also asked how the merger went for that church. The pastor of the joining church, who ﬁ lled out the survey, ranked the experience an 8 out of a possible high of 10, stating, “Our focus was on a greater impact on our community, and we achieved that. Both churches were stronger after the merge than before.” For this merged church, 1 + 1 = far more than 2.
As these two churches illustrate, new-math mergers are working across many different church sizes. Premerger attendance at the ﬁ rst Arizona example was two thousand. Premerger attendance at the Ohio merger was 205. But church growth, though an important barometer, is not the primary measure of a merger’s success. Instead it’s whether the merger can better achieve God’s call of making disciples of Jesus Christ. In that way the more important measures are changed lives.
Jim Tomberlin is founder and senior strategist of MultiSite Solutions, a company dedicated to assisting churches in maximizing their redemptive potential through intensive and insightful multisite and church merger consultation.
Over three decades of diverse ministry, Jim has pastored a church in Germany, grown a megachurch in Colorado and pioneered the multisite strategy for Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Since 2005 he has been consulting and coaching churches in developing and implementing multi-campus strategies.
As the @MultiSiteGuy Jim continues to track multisite developments and has become the nationally recognized expert on multisite church. In addition, he has become the @MergerGuru on church mergers with nearly a third of his consulting currently involving merger issues.
Jim is the author of 125 Tips for MultiSite Churches, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, and Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church Planting and Giga-Church World.
Follow him on his blog at http://multisitesolutions.com/blog.
Jim resides in Scottsdale, AZ and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Georgia State University in Atlanta and a Masters of Theology (Th.M) from Dallas Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Deryl, have three grown children and nine grandchildren