The elders of both churches met to discuss the possibilities and agreed to move forward as one united church in Danville. The newly christened Crossroads Christian Church held its first combined services as a new congregation last week. Clark serves as preaching minister of the new church, and Doug Hargrave (formerly senior minister with Northland) leads as the executive minister.
There are several things that excite me about churches merging together:
1. It seems that too many of our churches have been started through division (splits, hurt feelings, power-plays, etc.), but this method starts churches through radical unity. For church mergers to work each congregation and leadership must sacrifice power, agendas, vision, titles, and resources to pull together as one.
2. It can create one healthy church where two struggling congregations existed before.
3. It appears to be wise stewardship of God’s resources. A church of 300 has financial opportunities that 2 churches of 150 do not. This is even more true when one of the merging congregations runs 50 people, or below.
4. It’s a great witness to the community.
5. In the New Testament we read that Paul set up one church per city. I’d argue that that strategy is not practical, realistic, or even wise now, but I’d also argue that Carter County, Tennessee doesn’t need over 30 Christian churches, either.
6. This may seem counter-intuitive to you, but I think this might be a great way for a multi-site work to begin. If two churches come together as one, with one vision, one team, one clear purpose, and twice the financial resources, they would immediately have the staff and resources necessary to target multiple areas of population growth.
Some of my questions:
1. Can one church in one location really get more work done than two churches in two different locations?
2. What steps need to be taken to facilitate two Elderships and two staffs becoming one without power struggles emerging and one Eldership (or Preacher/Staff) dominating the other?
3. What about the members of each individual church? What steps need to be taken to ensure that the members of each church are involved in a process that will have a significant impact on them?
4. Is this a last option to be taken only in a time of crisis, or should it be considered as a wise option, even if both congregations are healthy, but happen to be located in close proximity to each other?
5. What can be done to honor the legacy of each individual church before the new church is birthed?
6. It seems like it would be unwise–and a hindrance to growth–to have a merger lead by two Preachers. Can this work if one of the Preachers doesn’t agree to step into an Associate, or Executive Minister position and let the other one be the point person?
Churches merging together? Who would have thought that would have ever worked?
Next thing you know we’ll be hearing rumors about a lion laying down with a lamb.