A Shaken Church
If 2020 didn’t teach us anything else, it us taught us the true meaning of Hebrews 12:27. In other words, everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Its beginning to feel like a perpetual earth quake! These last last few years have been pure pandemonium. I wish I was exaggerating. The pandemic affected everything, especially the church.
Many of our beloved church’s struggled greatly in the midst of the pandemic. According to The Unstuck Church Podcast, 1 in 5 churches would likely be closing their doors in the next 18 months. For the US, that means 60,000 potential churches. So now the question is, do we Merge or Die?
The Business of Church Merging
Most of us have heard the term “Merge or Merger” in business, but never in the church. Unless you’re a pastor or in church leadership, you’re probably not familiar with its business side. And thats ok. For this purpose, Merge simply means to combine or join forces with.
For those who dont know, the 21st century church is recognized as a charitable organization who has to obtain a 501(c)(3) by the IRS. I know some of us like to think of church as this heavenly place that exists above the rules because its supposed to be Gods house. This will be relevant as we dive deeper into weighing the pros and cons of merging.
Gods Unchanging Heart
Unfortunately, this conversation may deflate the image some of you had in your head about your cherished church. For others, it may help to enlighten you about the biblical aspect of merging. I intend break down some myths by dropping knowledge and challenging the culture. By doing so, help to paint a brighter more biblical image of the church.
I hope to show you that the answer to this conflict is both natural and spiritual. Some people think the two contradict each other, but I’m going to shine light on the harmonious rhythm of Gods heart for the church and how it never changed.
Merge or die: natural selection hits the church
Merge or die? That’s the critical question many leaders find themselves asking as they struggle to keep the doors of their dying church open. But to answer that, we’ve got to explore the true intention and history of the church so that we will be better equipped to have the tough conversations.
If you were looking for a non biblical explanation about the Church Merging conflict, I would exit stage left. I cannot and will not take Christ out of the church. That’s kinda how we got here in the first place. If your lost don’t worry, just keep reading.
Church History Through Kingdom Lenses
We cannot talk about Church mergers without discussing the significance of the Church. In order to do that, We’ve got to talk about Jesus Christ, there’s really no way him (and if there was I still wouldn’t take it)! I know his name has become offensive in our culture, which is what makes this conversation that much more necessary.
There are a few of you who are cringing at the thought of talking about Jesus outside of a church setting. Probably the same people that only see the church as brick and mortar. I hope to draw some clear and concise connections that would point you to the reality of Jesus. But for those of us who know there’s more to story, keep reading! I’ve got some dope revelations for you.
Connected Through Christ
So how are Christ and the church connected? Im glad you asked. God established the church through his only son Jesus Christ in the New Testament of the Bible. Initially, salvation was exclusively for the Jews, Gods chosen people. Jesus, who was referred to as the messiah in the Old Testament, came to fulfill prophecy and bring good news that ALL could receive salvation IF hey believed in him.
Jesus birth fulfilled prophecy and confirmed the conception of the church. His life and ministry laid the foundation. His crucifixion gave birth to the church and his resurrection completed the church.
The Founding Father and His Kingdom
For some who felt that previous explanation was a bit heavy, try thinking of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the presidents, founders and CEOs of heaven and earth aka the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is Gods government in which he reigns supreme.
This story is similar to the birth of our Nation. You know how the Founding Fathers united the 13 colonies to establish a new government after declaring independence from Great Britain ? That’s similar to what happened with the coming of Jesus for the gentiles and the Jews ultimately uniting Gods people into one kingdom.
Jesus Changes Everything
We do not have enough time for a complete bible history lesson but just know that Jesus Christ changed EVERYTHING. Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection united all of Gods people, back to God. Under a NEW covenant. The Church, is Heavens Embassy on earth. Kinda like how we have embassies in foreign nations. Individually, Christians are like heavenly ambassadors who represent heaven hear on earth. Capeesh?
Oh yeah and one more thing, the Church is not a building, its a PEOPLE. Its the body of Christ. Its the gathering of Gods people. This can happen anywhere 2 or more are gathered in the name of Jesus.
Ok so now that we’ve got church history through a kingdom perspective, can we get back to the issue at hand. Should the church adopt the merging concept businesses do in order to survive? The answer is HECK YEAH. Plot twist, the church is the original merger! Not the conclusion you were expecting? Keep reading.
Now, I’m no expert but from what I know about people and our history with God, is that we tend to take things too far. We tend to miss the mark, but God who accounts for our mistakes always finds a way to bring us back when we get lost. Apparently all humans are born hardheaded, but he just keeps on loving us. This is what we Christian’s call, amazing grace.
What if God, who is the supreme reigning authority, used the shaking of the pandemic as a divine disruption to point us back to his original intent for the church? I mean we have 380,000 church’s and more than 200 denominations in the United States alone. Globally there is more than 34 million churches and more than 45,000 denominations. That’s insane when you really think about it.
From Surviving to Thriving
There are 2 billion Christians across the world, yet denominations and excess buildings keep us divided. No wonder there is so much confusion. It seems merging might be more congruent to the heart of God than our pre-pandemic postures. It may not match our plans, but its definitely closer to his will.
Unity is a sacred principal that appears in the Bible over and over gain. As the church begins to re-adopt the merging concept, it will begin to thrive. Less buildings, less barriers. Many members, one body. God is a god of relationship, and community, not religion.
Religion has institutionalized the Church so much so that Christ is no longer on the forefront. The church is no longer a body, but a building where we have service and concerts. It has become about platforms, titles, rules, membership and competition. This shaking should be a wake up call for every believer who was participating in comfortable Christianity.
These mergers are providing us with a second chance to do church Gods way. By keep Christ at the center, its impossible for us to fail. Buildings may close, people may turn away but Gods church will stand forever. If you’ve been through a merger drop a comment and leave your experience, we’d love to hear from you.