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Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work

ISBN: 978-1-118-21821-1
272 pages
February 2012, Jossey-Bass
Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work (1118218213) cover image


Thousands of Protestant churches are perplexed by plateaued or declining attendance, while other congregations nearby thrive. Is there a way for them to combine forces, drawing on both their strengths, in ways that also increase their missional impact? Church merger consultant Jim Tomberlin, with co-writer Warren Bird, makes the case that mergers today work best not with two struggling churches but with a vital, momentum-filled lead church partnering with a joining church. In this new book, they provide a complete, practical, hands-on guide for church leaders of both struggling and vibrant churches so that they can understand the issues, develop strategies, and execute a variety of forms of merger for church expansion and renewal to reinvigorate declining churches and give them a "second life."
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Table of Contents

About the Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series xi

Foreword xiii
Craig Groeschel

Preface xv

Part One: The New Merger Landscape 1

1. God Is Doing Something New: Biblical Basis for Mergers 3

2. Four Models for Healthy Mergers 21

3. Missional, Multisite, Multiethnic, and Other Merger Motives 35

Part Two: How Healthy Church Mergers Work 61

4. Stages and Speed of a Merger 63

5. How to Measure Success 77

6. Why Mergers Fail 91

7. Financial and Legal Aspects of a Merger 105

8. Personnel Changes 117

Part Three: Your Next Steps 127

9. Determining Whether Your Church Is a Good Merger Candidate 129

10. How to Start the Merger Conversation 149

11. Self-Assessment for Merger Readiness 161

12. Exercise: Identifying Your Merger Issues 167

13. Managing Pain and Change 177

14. Where Do You Go from Here? 187


A. Merger Process Checklist 195

B. Example of Merger Issues to Resolve 198

C. FAQs Example from Bethany–Sun Valley Churches 206

D. FAQs Example from Ginghamsburg Church 216

E. FAQs Example from Woodside Bible Church 220

F . FAQs on Preparing for a Merger Vote 223

G. Churches Named 225

H. Merger Research 229

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 233

The Authors 241

Index 243

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Author Information

Jim Tomberlin, Th.M., is an ordained minister who has served in a variety of ministries, including pioneering the multisite strategy at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. He is the founder of MultiSite Solutions, devoted to multisite and merger consultation.

Warren Bird, Ph.D., an ordained minister, is the research director at Leadership Network. He has conducted numerous interviews and surveys on topics of church restarts, church planting, multisites, and mergers, and is the coauthor of twenty-three books including Culture Shift, Viral Churches, and The Other 80 Percent, all from Jossey-Bass.

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