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Are Mergers Changing the Church Landscape?

September 4, 2019
iconMergers
by Jim Tomberlin

I stumbled into my first church merger experience accidently in 2003 (and if you have a merger experience, I’ll end this short article asking you to share it).

Looking for a place to plant a regional campus for a Chicago suburban church, I came across a school in a great location. But another church was already meeting there. I left my card, and told them that if that church ever leaves, call me.

I got a call, but it wasn’t from the school. The church phoned and said, “We don’t have a pastor. Can we join you?’”

I responded, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

I tried to dissuade them, but they insisted.

Eventually, I gave in. With 150 church members from my church combined with the 150 people already in the school we relaunched as a new church. Fifteen years later it has grown to 2,000 regular attendees.

When I went back for the 10th anniversary, of the original 150, about 125 were still there. They told me it was the greatest thing that ever could have happened to them.

In 2011 I co-authored a book with Warren Bird, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, about the emerging church merger trend that I had experienced firsthand (and maybe you have too!).

We described how these new kinds of mission-driven mergers were different than the survival-based mergers of the past. We also observed that many of these mergers were an unintended but positive consequence of the multisite church movement.

Since then we have seen an explosion of all kinds of church mergers beyond multisite outcomes. More church leaders are seeing mergers as a church-plant strategy, pastor-search strategy, succession strategy, community transformation strategy and denominationally driven revitalization and replant strategy.

A decade later, with a seismic culture shift in church attendance and changing attitudes towards local churches, it’s time to do another nation-wide, comprehensive survey on church mergers to capture the trends in these new developments.

TAKE THE CHURCH MERGER SURVEY!

If your church has experienced a merger–or unsuccessfully attempted a merger in the past–would you give us your take on our church merger survey?

In partnership with The Unstuck Group, Leadership Network, ECFA, Fortress Press, and others, we are offering several incentives for church leaders to take our survey–and to forward it to others who have a church merger experience. Plus we’re planning a free webinar to survey participants to reveal and discuss the initial findings from the survey.

Just go to this link and tell us your thoughts about mergers. As one of the many ways we’ll say thanks, we’ll also email you a summary of what everyone else said.

Thank you.

Jim Tomberlin, lead author of Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work

Questions? Contact DrBirdAssistant@gmail.com


MultiSite Solutions has begun a formal transition to join Tony Morgan and The Unstuck Group as part of a two-year merger-succession. We are convinced we can better serve local churches together! Tony and I are putting out some practical (and a lot of free) resources for multisite leaders. Get those by opting in to The Unstuck Group’s Multisite email subscription.

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"Jim Tomberlin was a huge asset to us during our recent move to multisite. His experience and expertise helped us navigate our staff and church through a church merger and greatly assisted us in the union of two churches. I highly recommend Jim to anyone prayerfully considering either mergers or multisite churches."

TERRY BRISBANE
Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Church

"Jim came along side Celebration Church from the very beginning of our multi-site journey. His insight, strategy, and understanding of what it takes to be a healthy church was huge to us as we began this new journey. Since partnering with Jim, we’ve gone from one church meeting in a single location, to five campuses meeting throughout Wisconsin."

MARK GUNGOR
SENIOR PASTOR - CELEBRATION CHURCH, GREEN BAY, WI

"Not only did he bring a depth of knowledge, insight and wisdom but he also helped to bring clarity to our strategy which will keep us healthy and growing well into the future. Jim brought to our team a pastor’s heart with a strategist’s mind for how to understand church growth through multisites."

STEVE POE
LEAD PASTOR - NORTHVIEW CHURCH CARMEL, IN

"Jim is one of the country’s leading thinkers on the multi-site movement."

LIFECHURCH.TV
Craig Groeschel – Lead Pastor

"If you’re planning to go multisite and want someone to walk you through implementing your strategy successfully you’ll want to connect with Jim…you won’t be disappointed."

Community Christian Church
Dave Ferguson – Community Christian Church, Naperville, IL

"He is a veteran leader, who is able to combine a wealth of knowledge with an intuitive grasp of the needs of the local pastor."

The Chapel
Scott Chapman – The Chapel, Lake Country, IL

"If your church is thinking about going multisite make sure you have Jim on your team."

Sagebrush Church
Todd Cook – Sagebush Community Church – Alberquerque, New Mexico
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