CHECKLIST/PRINCIPLES FOR MERGING CHURCHES

If you are asking people to change, you need to be very clear about why. Is there clarity of calling and motivation? What is the vision that draws us into the future? How will this merged church better serve God and God’s purposes in the world? How would it operate? What would it look like? What is the identified mission/service field? Does this vision build on strengths and resources? (rather than just minimizing shortages)

Theological language and images are necessary to tap spiritual resources for the journey. A merging for institutional survival or health alone is not good enough to sustain journey nor offer direction. How has this change/merger been framed Biblically/theologically? What is being done in worship and in prayer? How have people been invited into this as a spiritual adventure?

It is easy for pastors and leaders to get ahead of the congregation. Is the process transparent? What plans have been made to spread out sense of ownership beyond pastors and designated leaders? (eloping versus planning a big family wedding) Have “parking lot conversations” been instigated? Would the congregation be surprised (taken aback) by the process at any stage?

Church size affects model of pastoring and leadership expectations. What changes are likely to result from this merger in terms of pastoral and lay leadership? How can the 2-year window of energy/excitement following change be used to full advantage? What conversations have taken place about staffing options?

I can change. . . . if I have to . . . .I guess.” (the Red Green Show) What attention has been paid to the emotionality of the system? (grief, anxiety, spiritual coping mechanisms. Grace, forgiveness, resistance.