Relocation/Merger is a big decision for any congregation.
As they often say in weddings, it is not to be entered into lightly or unadvisedly, but soberly and discreetly. Relocation/merger of a church should be taken only when it is clearly the best strategy, and clearly at the leading of the Holy Spirit. Of all the important studies undertaken by leadership: logistics, legalities, demographics, culture of the churches, compatibility of the churches, commonalities of vision, mutual needs and benefits, and others; none compares to the one central question: Is God calling us (both) to expand his kingdom work in Villa Rica and the surrounding area by merging the churches, or is God clarifying our ministry where we are? Needs, desires, comforts, and dreams are not the call; the call comes from God, and when it does it becomes a simple matter of obedience. To merge or not must be an obedient response to God by his people.
Davis Byrd, of the LifeWay Corporation’s Church Architecture Department says churches need to relocate/merge for one of two reasons:
- Out of a need for additional land area that is unavailable in the present location, or
- They have a poor location to do the ministry they feel called to
It is not the purpose of this devotional to urge either congregation to adopt the idea of a merger. That may not be the best course for either congregation – there is no such thing as a ―one size fits all answer on this question. By considering relocation of CHPC and merger with FPVR, both congregations are at minimum saying that there are issues that need to be addressed. Considering relocation/merger for the second reason above, the discussion is particularly difficult for the congregations, for this speaks of possible dysfunction in execution of God’s call for the church, and it may mean that either or both are at the point of a life and death crisis.
One of the most difficult things for you or some of your fellow church members will be to sort through the emotions relocation/merger talk stirs up. Some may feel that the church is considering a course that is disloyal to your forebears or feeling grief that the church will never be the same after a merger (an unavoidable fact). These feelings will not just go away if we ignore them. They are powerful and sometimes agonizing. We need to be especially sensitive to those who may be struggling with this consideration, and work to lovingly “consider others interests ahead of our own”. We need to acknowledge them, but we should not allow them to prevent us from studying the facts about the situation, searching for insights from Scripture that may apply to it, and ultimately discover God’s will and God’s call to God’s work.
Discussions about relocation/merger are about more than the street address. They are about the kind of church we are going to be. It is an unavoidable fact that the new, combined congregation will be a different church than either of the previous two. If it is to occur, it will be a new work. The relocation/merger decision is about each church’s growth strategy. What will be the new church niche in the Kingdom of God? It will be new and different. What are the strengths of each congregation and where can those strengths be best put to work to advance the Kingdom of God?
The relocation/merger question involves and challenges some of our deepest held doctrinal beliefs — in particular, the doctrine of the church. What do we believe about the nature and mission of the church? The definitive answer to the relocation/merger question may also reveal our level of spiritual commitment. The key question for each of us is: would you be willing to support relocation/merger if you knew God wanted it? These are spiritual issues that need to be thought through and prayed through.
You would not be reading this, nor considering this if you did not love your church. Each of us loves the idea of a flourishing, growing, biblical, impactful, Spirit-filled, Christ-uplifting, God-glorifying church. However, be warned: these devotionals will speak firmly at times to you and your fellow church members concerning ministry and mission. The strong wording is intended to overcome the defenses we put up to protect our feelings, sentimental preferences, traditions, and histories concerning the churches we love so much in favor of simple devotion to Christ and responding in faith to God’s call to God’s work. …compiled from “Going Places with God” by Derek Gentle
May God bless you as you enter his presence daily and study his Word as we spend 31 days together with Him.
Ephesians 3:14-21 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
*Scripture quotations are from the ESV, unless noted otherwise, and are in italics. Three dots “…” usually means that the text was edited or condensed to save space. When credit is offered for compiling a writing, usually the name only is noted. If you would like more information about an author or article, Google (or any good search engine) is your tool to learn more. The term ‘relocate’ is sometimes found alone. The intention is to add “/merge” for clarity, but if that was omitted, please understand that the intent is that the term ‘relocate’ and “merge’ are interchangeable throughout these devotionals.