Presentation on theme: "Church Revitalization Employing mergers for Church Revitalization Presented by: Martin Boelens CRAT Member November 3, 2013."— Presentation transcript:
Church Revitalization Employing mergers for Church Revitalization Presented by: Martin Boelens CRAT Member November 3, 2013
The Bible says in Colossians 1:15-20 Jesus is described in this passage as God, as the Creator, as the Sustainer, and as the Reconciler of everything. Jesus died for our souls, but he also died to reconcile all that he created, in other words to put into right relationship our fallen world. As King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus is making all things new. This is the good news of the gospel. Yet...
This is a Conference about Revitalization Many of us are here because, like Nehemiah, we lament that as we Many of us are here because, like Nehemiah, we lament that as we look around at our churches, our crumbling walls, and we feel like we are a reproach to the name of our Lord (see Neh. 1:3). Every Sunday all we begin to see through discouraged eyes are an empty parking lot, an empty building, an empty heart, and we are discouraged and defeated. We wonder how to reconcile the Words of the Bible concerning our Lord and King and the purposes for which He called us into the ministry and gave us our Churches. In the words of Tom Cheyney, we find ourselves in the 7 th and deepest level of Church decline in desperate need of revitalization.
The Seven Pillars of Church Revitalization and Renewal Most merger discussions occur in this 7 th stage of Church Revitalization and Renewal called the “Restarting or Repotting” stage. According to Tom, “This final Pillar of Church Revitalization is the hardest and often only happens once the church’s patriarchs and matriarchs have tried everything else they could think of to grow the church with no success.” That may be why you are here today – you tried everything else – and you hope this may work!
When it comes to the idea of a Church Merger as a “last resort” This idea is simply wrong!
Why Consider a Merger? Mergers are not the answer to bad financial situations, lack of leadership, poor attendance, or a change of demographics in your neighborhood. A merger is about your spiritual witness to the community. If a church is failing, there is no glory to God for closing its doors. The efforts and donations of countless families go to waste by shutting the church doors. But at the same time handing the keys over to the bank or a bankruptcy trustee is not appealing either. In a merger both churches keeps the doors open for people to minister, regardless of what happens to the facilities, which is key to keeping a ministry alive. Mergers are about VISION – God’s call on you, the Church’s Shepherd, to reach people for Jesus Christ with the Gospel. Mergers are about asking the right questions regarding your church’s approach to God’s mission for the people He has called for you to reach.
With Vision Mergers Increase Your Ministry Opportunities The most important benefit to a potential merger is when one or more churches discover that they can be on mission with God in their community more effectively together than apart! “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. Ecclesiastes 4:12
Merging Congregations Ecclesiastes 4:12 is a spiritual principle, as well as, a business principle. The business world has embraced this concept for years. Mergers and Acquisitions are a common business solution celebrated by the stock markets and investors world-wide. Companies like DuPont, US Steel, G.E., International Paper, Exxon-Mobil, Citicorp, AOL-Time Warner, AT&T, Pfizer, J.P. Morgan-Chase, Google, Microsoft, and 181 banks between 1923 and 2013 have all used this process.
If there is a message for the church considering mergers today; it is to recognize “mergers” as a call to a new level of cooperation: We are after all “One Body in Christ” for the sake of His mission. coupled with Successful mergers are a new hope for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, coupled with an honest grasp of the current circumstances that have precipitated a need for change.
Mergers require Sacrifice According to Tom, in this level of revitalization “ According to Tom, in this level of revitalization “Until the church is ready to make drastic changes, [a merger] will fail: There will be at least three to five things depending on how your church is structured and the polity it works within that will need to be surrendered by most participants if your church has a chance of revitalization and renewal: Evaluating who is in Charge? Giving up the Change ($) Letting Go of the Charter (Constitution stuff) Loosening of the reins of the Church. Making changes to the ones in Control
Technical - Legal For churches that are incorporated entities under a State’s Non-profit Corporation Act, merging two or more churches is mechanically a matter of State Law and Procedure, as well as, compliance with I.R.S. rules regarding nonprofit entities. A merger or consolidation occurs when two or more churches decide to combine into one entity. Mergers and consolidations are technically different. If a merger creates a new entity, it is generally considered a consolidation. When a church or surviving entity absorbs another, it is a merger.
Technical - Legal In Florida, Articles of Merger are pursuant to section 617.1105, Florida Statutes In Florida, Articles of Merger are pursuant to section 617.1105, Florida Statutes Technical – legal issues “matter”, but there are far more important relationships that need to be developed long before the lawyers are called in. Technical – legal issues “matter”, but there are far more important relationships that need to be developed long before the lawyers are called in. We will explore many of these issues today.
Mergers are about the Community of Faith. The focus in a merger must remain pastoral: the pastoral care of the people of your existing church communities: their hopes for the future; their spiritual and formational needs; the concerns, and difficulties they may be experiencing at the loss of their present church must be front and center; the participation of your people in the process of building a new church community is vital for a merger to have a chance; effective communication with the people of both churches is essential – they must know that their presence and involvement in the new church community is welcomed and needed.
Church Members support winners When your church understands the vision, they will support it. They’ll give to it, talk about it, share it, and get excited about it. The merger conversation must center on the vision of the church and how the merger will be used in fulfilling the vision. But, “successful” mergers only happen when everyone involved is willing to let go of their former identities and power bases and allow God to reshape and form two ministiries into a new church. Set the right expectations - The new church will not be what everyone expects. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)
How to begin the merger process: “Know Thy Self” In 1750 Benjamin Franklin, in his Poor Richard's Almanack, observed: "There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self." Before jumping into a merger, each congregation needs to take a “hard look” at who they are and what vision(s) they have for themselves as a church. The congregations also need to assess their motivation, readiness, willingness and suitability for a merger. All alternatives to merging should be explored. The churches considering a merger need to find out if they will be compatible. Each congregation has its own unique “congregational culture” and that includes, but is not limited to, worship, theology, leadership, views on everything from music to women’s roles in the church, and the use of space and time.
Do we really speak the same language? The language problem is not that we mean different things when we use the same words, but the fact that we believe that we mean the same thing. This misunderstanding causes many of the problems that we run into in our relationships and indeed in every form of human interaction. The assumption that what I am saying is that which you are understanding is false. In most cases, both Churches may be speaking English, but you actually will mean very different things.
To Prove Point: Let’s Try and Eat In London! Ordering what you want can be more than a play on words: Our American may:In London: Want French fries? Ask for chips. Want potato chips? Ask for crisps. Want tea? Ask for tea. ( But remember, this is tea land. You will get hot tea with milk. If you want sweet iced tea, good luck.) If you want a cookie, Ask for a biscuit. Want a biscuit? Ask for a scone. Want jelly? Ask for jam. And if you want cakeAsk for sponges or tarts (be careful with the tarts)
Will both Churches be speaking English? Leadership and Church “Polity” Church “polity” is that branch of ecclesiology (study of the church) that addresses the organizational structure and hierarchy of the church; i.e. its government or leadership type. There are typically three main types of church governments, but mentioning any one of these types get us no closer to understanding any particular church’s type of government.
By Illustration... XYZ CHURCH says: Our Church is a “congregationally-led” church. What does that mean to you? Stephen B. Cowan, in his book: “Who Runs the Church?: 4 Views on Church Government”, he offers the following:
Congregational means a “single elder/pastor led” church To many, a congregational church is led by a single pastor who exercises primary leadership in all decisions and doctrinal determinations. Typically, this leader performs the duties of a lead pastor who also provides the preaching and teaching ministries for the church in addition to administrative leadership.
Others mean a “Democratic” congregational church In a congregational church led by a democratically elected leadership board or council, final authority for all decisions and doctrinal determinations are vested in a plurality of representative leaders selected by the congregation. But even among these congregations...
The titles of the individual leaders and the structure of the leadership board varies. One common use of this structure involves the election of "elders" to an "elder board". The "elders" make business and spiritual decisions for the congregation by committee and serve individually as examples and mentors to the rest of the congregation. Often "deacons" are also elected to provide leadership within specific committees, ministries or administrative functions. Often "deacons" are also elected to provide leadership within specific committees, ministries or administrative functions. In these churches, "deacons" are subordinate to the authority of the "elders". Yet, in many Baptist congregational churches, "deacons" serve on a unified "board” essentially as “elders” with voting authority and the concept of “elders” and “deacons” are blended into one.
The titles of the individual leaders and the structure of the leadership board varies. Another common use of this structure acknowledges the "pastor" as the single "elder" for the congregation who participates in decision-making with a "deacon board" comprised of the "pastor" and "deacons" all of whom are selected by the congregation. The "pastor" also typically serves as chief executive officer for the congregation in implementing the decisions of the leadership board on a day-to-day basis Sometimes, the “pastor” is no more than pulpit-fill.
Plural elder-led In a congregational church led by a plurality of elders, final authority for all decisions and doctrinal determinations are vested in a plurality of elders acting in committee. This structure is very similar to the "elder board" approach to the democratic congregational structure, often differing only in the method used to select the elders and/or in the term of service of each elder. In some congregations, elders are appointed by someone or some entity respected by the congregation and allows this authority. In some congregations, elders serve until they resign, die or are removed by the congregation or their peers for doctrinal or moral failures. This structure can, but does not always, include the use of "deacons" or other leaders subordinate to the authority of the elders.
In all versions of the “congregationally-led church” There is form and there is reality! Is the “pastor” truly one of the team or is he “first among equals”? The dictator surrounded by “yes” men? Or is power really in some other influencer on or off the board? Are you even consciously aware of how things work? Is your board? What about your merger team?
The Key Point Before you begin discussion with another church about uniting ministries for the furtherance of the Body of Christ everyone on the leadership team, regardless of type of governing structure, needs to have a thorough understanding of your own form of government and your operating documents – Constitution, Bylaws, Policies, Employee Handbooks, and practices. Leadership should also have in-depth discussions with appropriate church staff in-order-to fully understand how your church actually operates. Do not take it for granted that your lay leadership knows how things work. Ask yourself out of the roughly 168 hours in a week; how many hours do your leaders personally spend at the church?
GOBA & CRAT Your Greater Orlando Baptist Association and Church Revitalization Action Teams have checklists and manuals that can help you explore your Church’s existing governance and practices, as well as, key merger steps and processes. There are also a number of great books and articles written on the subject to assist in this process Legal and Accounting Services will also be essential.
B. Merger exploration and the intent-to-merge resolution Communication and Discovery are key components of a successful merger. Mechanically, each church forms a merger committee to identify possible merger partners, meet with the other church’s merger committee and see whether there is agreement to go forward. The committee serves as the scout for the church as well as its negotiating team.
This Process is Vital In sum, the closer both churches are in alignment to the other church’s government the better; however, you cannot assume just because both churches are “elder-led”, “deacon-led”, “congregational” or “pastor-led” that it means the same thing in both churches. Furthermore, there is no guarantee they operate as advertised! There are hundreds of details to examine.
Speaking English Beyond Polity In Pastor Larry Osborne's book Unity Factor (www.amazon.com) “The Unity Factor Developing a Healthy Church Leadership Team”, he talks about having a three-fold unity: www.amazon.com Doctrinal Unity, Philosophical Unity, and Philosophical Unity, and Relational Unity. Relational Unity.
Culture and “Signature” Ministries Most churches are not aware of their own unique identity and “church culture” until there is a merger. After merger, congregations often discover that “the way things have always been done” is not the way the other church has functioned. A feeling of “us” verses “them” develops. Things that are “sacred” to one group may not even be known to the other. Fall Festivals, types of bible studies, women or men events, that “carving” in the foyer that the missionary gave us in 1820!
C. The Merger Agreement As the merger teams meet, they will find it helpful to begin with an outline of the points to resolve and fill in the blanks as they agree on one issue after another. Detailed records of these discussions and the resolutions reached are crucial Some of these points may include:
KEY POINTS TO RESOLVE IN MERGER NEGOTIATIONS Timeline Mission and vision Leadership (Elders, Deacons, Congregation) Executive leadership (staff & assistants) Budget Church Name Corporate Structure
Key Point Continued... Signature Ministries, Programs, Sacred Cows Location (Multi-site or single site) Due Diligence – reputation, past and current “situations” Debt Pending or anticipated legal matters Membership Issues – Corporate Docs; Who? How? When? Bequests, endowments, Grants and contracts
CAPACITY FOR CHANGE Big changes, like a merger, aren’t always popular. People simply don’t like change, and some people may not like this type of change in particular. The key is communication and lots of it. Don’t be discouraged. Do not underestimate the resolve of your congregations for good!
“Top Ten Common Pitfalls for Church Mergers” by Tom Bandy There are individuals “hidden controllers” who are unable to surrender ego or self-interest to the larger purposes of God. “Controllers” are dysfunctional people who want to shape the church around personal lifestyle, and are unwilling to shape personal lifestyle around the mission of the church. Their intimidating personalities or personal neediness can sidetrack the church from its higher purpose.
Pitfalls... The organizational model, governing documents, leadership and staff fail to transform into a truly streamline, team-based, visionary structure. Instead, bureaucracies in each church that are already too large are integrated by artificial representation to form an even larger and more unwieldy board and committee structure. Decision-making can slow down and innovation can become secondary to program protection.
Problems persist if: The merger cannot eliminate “sacred cows” (properties, programs, technologies, or people) that no longer fit the mission and vision of the new church. Leaders are not able to measure the real productivity of traditional ministries for the changing mission field. Income and energy continues to be sidetracked away from the agenda of God’s purpose to redeem the world into silos. Staff additions, subtraction, Christ-centered H.R. decisions Making the “Hard” choices
Key Topics Lead Pastor Who will be the lead pastor? What role, if any, will the other lead pastor fill? How will the transition occur? Staff Do not assume, cost savings on staff are a given! Hard choice or role changes are common. Will there be multi-site or a single church campus?
Committee Notes KEY PRACTICE NOTE: During the exploration and negotiation process, minutes should be kept detailing the language agreed upon by the committees as they resolve each issue. This running record becomes the Merger Agreement/ term sheet that lays the foundation for the governance, programs, finance, personnel, and overall structure and vision for the merged organization.
D. Legal Enactment Upon approval of the Merger Agreement – a layman’s agreement – the boards must enlist joint legal counsel to “translate” the agreement and prepare the legal documents. An attorney will prepare the documents appropriate for the churches’ respective state regulations, ensure that the formal votes are taken and file the documents with the appropriate government agencies. With Churches, we probably won’t merge legally. Instead one Church may continue and the other may legally dissolve and transfer its assets under IRS rules. Sometimes we may use a new legal entity and dissolve both churches.
E. Launch The merger launch can be a very exciting community event where both churches showcase all the benefits that will come from the union. At other times, a board may decide that it is in their best interest not to draw attention to a merger, keeping it a non-event, due to the specifics surrounding their particular situation. Celebrate!
The merger is just the start Merger integration happens at various levels. For staff, there are systems that need to be integrated, cultural habits that need to be taken into consideration and cross training issues to resolve. For board members, integration translates into the ability of the merging boards to create a team from the fusion of the pre-merger boards For members, a new frontier!
6 Steps to the Merger Process A. Initiation B. Merger exploration and negotiation C. The Merger Agreement D. Legal enactment E. Launch F. Organizational integration GOBA IS HERE TO HELP!