Tag Archive - blended

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4 Common Church Merger Mistakes

The thought of a church merging with another church had never crossed my mind 20 years ago when I started full time ministry. Mergers were something companies did, not churches. But if you’re paying attention to what’s happening in church-world, mergers are becoming more and more common. And I don’t think it’s a trend that’s going away anytime soon.

There are a lot of good reasons that two churches might choose to merge together. After being a part of two separate church mergers and both coaching other churches through the process and observing other mergers happen around the country I thought I’d take the time to share four common church merger mistakes that I see happening.

1. Trying to Blend the Culture of the Two Churches

Trying to blend the culture of two different churches is like trying to do a blended worship style on Sunday morning services. By trying to make everybody happy you end up making nobody happy. In the most successful church mergers one church culture leads the way and washes over the other church culture.

2. Not having a Plan for One of the Two Sr. Pastors

Many times in a church merger there are two Sr. Pastors involved, one from each church. When there’s not a clear plan for one of those to Sr. Pastors to exit it can lead to a conflict of loyalty and confusion of the vision. There needs to be a clear plan of what the Sr. Pastor who won’t be leading this newly merger church is going to do. Which one stays and which one goes, and why?

3. Keeping Staff that you Shouldn’t

Often times in a church merger the joining church has been stuck or in decline for a significant period of time and the lead church has momentum and has been growing for some time. The staff culture of those two kids of churches is significantly different. The kind of staff that can serve at a church that is stuck or in decline for a long period of time are not wired to serve in a fast growing church. Don’t keep them on staff longer than you should or you’ll unnecessarily slow the cultural transition of the merger and create disunity and conflict.

4. Taking a Ministry Menu Approach

Again, in an attempt to keep everybody happy I’ve seen some churches that merge refuse to stop doing the ministries that they were doing before the merger took place. Instead of taking the best of both merging church ministries and maximizing those ministries, they simply add to the ministry menu by offering everything that each individual church was previously doing. I know that shutting down a ministry can be difficult to lead through, but leading a church that is overextended and trying to be all things to all people is even more difficult to lead. Strategically choose which ministries will continue after the merger happens, before the merger happens.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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5 Self-Inflicted Wounds that Keep Churches Stuck

Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons. And while no church I’ve ever worked with has ever set out with the goal of being stuck, most eventually become stuck at some point along the way. Unfortunately the majority of churches that are stuck get that way not because of some insurmountable obstacle that is put in place by the enemy, but rather they become stuck due to self-inflicted wounds.  Bad decisions that seem right in the moment, but lead to the church being stuck. Here are a few common self-inflicted wounds I’ve seen happen to churches:

1. Blended Worship Services

In an effort to make everyone happy churches often attempt blend multiple in-congruent worship styles together into one service. The result? Instead of making everyone happy, everyone is frustrated because no one really gets what they want. This has failed over and over again, and yet I still see churches try to do blended services. They simply don’t work.

2. Quick Hires

Quick hires are usually hires based on convenience not mission. Every new hire you make either moves you closer to your mission or further away. It either helps you become more of who God wants you to be and further galvanizes your culture or erodes it. Sure, fire quickly. But hire slowly, because you put your culture at stake every time you make a new hire.

3. Departmentalizing Ministries

Occasionally I’ve been asked this question by a well-meaning church attender, “How much money does the church give to missions?” My reply is always the same, “100%., the whole thing is missions.” They quickly clarify that what they’re really asking, “Is how much money is sent overseas?” I could write a couple of posts on this subject, so I’ll spare you. Suffice to say, those of you who know me, understand how much the nations, not just our neighbors, mean to me. But ultimately that question leads to departmentalization. Churches get stuck when they create a missions department, discipleship department, or worship department etc. The whole thing is evangelism. The whole thing is discipleship. The whole thing is worship. This kind of thinking leads to silos and competing systems…and ultimately being stuck. Like I said…I can get rambling on that one.

4. Keeping Christians Happy

Many churches have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the church is for. Instead of being for people who have not yet said yes to following Jesus, many churches fall into the trap of believing they exist to provide nice safe programing for Christians for the purpose of biblical education. They eventually become insider focused and begin making decisions based on who they want to keep instead of who they want to reach. By the way I’m not sure God’s as interested in the happiness of his people as He is their holiness.

5. Feeding the Past

Ministry programs that experienced success in the past should be celebrated, just not fed. Everything drifts from the future to the past. Ministry that once reached outsiders eventually drifts towards impacting insiders and needs to be reinvented or it will ultimately become obsolete.

 Is your church stuck in one of these or another area? The Unstuck Group, the consulting firm I’m a part of specializes in helping church get unstuck. We’d be happy to help you move from where you are, to where God wants you to be. Let’s talk!


Posted in Leadership