Lessons from the Church Merger (2)

The fact that there’s a church merger forces us to do somethings differently. And this is a positive thing. So here are 3 more things I noticed that the church merger causes us to do:

1. Re-examine Your Motives

One of the sayings I often hear in church is something like, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For example, during the planning of a typical ministry project which happens periodically, people usually ask, “What did we do before?” Or “What did we do last year?” For some reason it happens most often for annual church retreats when people’s conclusions usually end up with, “Let’s do the same thing we did last year.”

But the church merger forces us to really re-examine why is it you do what you do. Even something like singing songs during Sunday worship service, when you notice that both churches do things quite differently, it causes you to go and ask, “So why do we sing songs on Sunday?”

Since I’m involved in worship ministries, I tried to take the opportunity to ask some questions we haven’t asked before. For example, “If I want our Sunday worship singing to sound good as an offering to God, why shouldn’t I hire professional musicians instead of using a (comparatively) mediocre volunteer worship team?” Then you start to understand that while excellence in service is a duty, it doesn’t necessarily translate to “quality of worship offering.” It’s still how we live our lives as an offering to God that matter more. And in my initial meetings with the leadership of the other church’s worship ministry, I insisted on spending time to discuss those fundamental ministry understandings instead of just spending too much time on logistics.

During one of the early merger meetings, someone asked me, “Do you think that with the bigger church, your pastor will have less time to care for your needs?” I was surprised at that question, but then I realized that she was really expressing a question to figure out fundamentally what a pastor’s role really is. So I answered her, “I see the pastor’s role not as someone who has to do everything, but to help equip us to do the work of the people of God. So, no, I don’t even expect the pastor to care for my needs more or less. But I expect the pastor to have a bigger job as a church motivator.”

So it’s definitely a good opportunity to re-examine your motives.

2. Learn Not to Fear Change

One of the questions I hear most was “I’m so afraid of what’s going to happen after the merger?” So I ask him/her, “What is it that you’re afraid of?” Usually the answer I got back is: “I don’t know, I’m just afraid of the uncertainty.”

For a while I didn’t know what else to say to that person. Later on, I realize that even if we don’t have a church merger, every day of our lives is an unknown anyway. As long as you live, you’re going to wake up and not know what’s going to happen. Should we live in fear every day?

It might sound like a cliche, but the most fearful thing really is fear itself. Change and uncertainties are constants in life, so it’s pointless to fear change or fear uncertainties.

3. Exercise Submission/Humility

Some people have strong opinions about things. Some people have a hard time with change. Some people won’t understand what’s going on until the church merger actually materialized.

Romans 14:1 says “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” One who is “weak in faith” tends to be more legalistic (14:2,5) and it’s harder for them to accept other viewpoints.

We might consider ourselves “stronger,” but in God’s eyes, compared to Him, we are the ones who are weak. But He accepts us, so we also need to accept those who are weaker than we are (14:1,15:7).

So one thing I’ve learned is that a successful church merger definitely involves one party willingly submitting to another party in humility in certain matters.

Lessons from the Church Merger (1)
Lessons from the Church Merger (2)
Lessons from the Church Merger (3)

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