Around 2009, my friend Warren Bird, then at Leadership Network, called and asked if I was seeing a lot of mergers in my multisite church consulting. I was, and he was seeing the same. “God is doing something,” Warren said. “We ought to write a book about it.” A couple of years later, we published the book, Better Together, Making Church Mergers Work. Originally, like many pastors and church leaders, I had a vague, negative idea about church mergers. We didn't see it coming when we started thinking about multisite during my years at Willow Creek Community Church, but mergers have become an unintended consequence of the multisite movement.
When Phil Heller became Lead Pastor at White River Christian Church (WRCC) in Noblesville, Indiana, in 2006, he introduced the staff and congregation to his then five-year-old son, Cade. Precocious and full of energy, Cade also brought with him the challenges of Down syndrome, a genetic condition affecting nearly 6,000 new babies every year in the United States.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
In today’s world, we are constantly connected. Whether it’s Wi-Fi on planes and trains, or Bluetooth-enabled cars, or even waterproof devices that allow us to check e-mails in the shower, people are wired—and weary. Based on an Aspen/Barna study, the next generation is looking for a place to rest from their highly plugged in, fragmented lives. The church may be the perfect place for them to find it.
Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Orland Park, Illinois, was built in 1970. Over the years, pastors have experienced several physical barriers that inhibited the worship experience. In the sanctuary, there was a disconnect between the pastor and the congregation because of the positioning of the existing worship platform, which was too high and not wheelchair accessible.
Churches are popping up in schools, community centers, and warehouses. They’re meeting in movie theaters, coffee shops, and even comedy clubs. While many churches plant roots in permanent facilities, churches often start out mobile and borrow or rent space that's primarily used for another purpose.
What will it take for the church to regain its place in the center of our culture? I posed this question in a panel discussion with three visionary leaders: Tom Elenbaas, Harbor Churches; Mark Jobe, New Life Community Church; and Dave Ferguson, Community Christian Church. (You can see the full conversation here.)
South Harbor Church, one of five Harbor Churches in the Grand Rapids, MI, area, was planted in 2011. The facility was outdated, and their kids’ ministries were spread out in various places throughout the building, making it difficult for parents with multiple-age kids to drop off and pick them up easily. “Consolidating kids to one area of the building is a common challenge for many of the churches we’re designing now,” says Rosie Mitchell, a project designer for Aspen Group. “When nursery, preschool and elementary rooms are located in various or far parts of the building, this makes it very difficult for parents with multiple ages to navigate the building.”
In Europe, there are Gothic Cathedrals that draw visitors from all over the world. There’s one in Spain that took 400 years to build. (You thought your building campaign was long!) But, if you walk into that building today, it’s a museum. Additionally, the U.S. is filled with grandiose churches that seat 500, but only average 12 attendees on a Sunday. Churches that were once vital, powerful places that would make a difference in the community are closing. They were the hub of the immigrants, the places where the gospel was preached, where people were married, buried and baptized. Now they’re demolished or repurposed into condos. As a pastor in Chicago, I started to wonder, should we just abandon these buildings? Something struck my heart as I began to read scripture: What if these stained-glass window cathedrals were filled with young people attending these older churches? What if we were able to take what people sacrificed to build for the Gospel and now redeem these buildings for God?
In our consulting work at Multisite Solutions, we get weekly calls from churches asking two questions: So, why should a church merge? Should we do this or not? When I talk with the two churches involved, usually two senior pastors or a senior pastor and a board member, I ask them to reflect on four questions to help them answer the big question: Should my church merge?
Leadership development may often be perceived as vague, time-consuming, or intimidating. In reality, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Using “Tony” as my fictional example, here is a proven, five-step mentorship/apprenticeship model that can be used to develop new leaders in church ministry.