Mergers And Partnerships


liquid skyMany large congregations are asking the question, “What is our obligation to the struggling smaller and mid-sizedcongregations in our Conferences/Regions/Districts?”  Or, if the church is not asking the question, the middle judicatory is asking the question for them. Some large congregations think of themselves as resource centers for neighboring congregations. They design programs and ministries with the intent that smaller congregations will reproduce the programs in a local setting.  But the reality is that most small to mid-sized congregations don’t have the resources or capacity to replicate even toned down versions of educational programs and ministries that the larger church is doing. Other large congregations are inviting their smaller neighbors to join them in specific ministry partnerships, like youth programming and social justice outreach programs.  Some really creative collaboration and partnering activities are beginning to happen between congregations that share a regional identity.  Some of these partnership are happening within denominational structures but more and more are happening outside of denominational systems.

Last week one of my colleagues introduced me to this marvelous website that describes and evaluates various collaborative partnering approaches between congregations. It covers a variety of partnerships including, but not limited to church mergers.  I was surprised to learn (although I guess I shouldn’t have been) that the absorption model of merger tends to work better than the continuation or rebirth merger. It stands to reason that a large church that is doing well can absorb a smaller congregation and experience some synergy in the merger, provided the large church doesn’t yield too much of the core identity that makes it “healthy” in the first place.

I’m really curious about what you are all experiencing on the merger/collaboration/partnership front. Fill me in by posting a comment.

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