More Thoughts on Momentum

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

A few days ago, I mentioned something Andy Stanley said concerning momentum. Here’s another one of his thoughts.

In the church world, we put up with lack of momentum as long as we can still pay the bills.

Now there’s a sad thought. “I am financially viable, therefore I exist.” Is your church in that boat?

Too many churches choose to limp along, keeping the doors open, as long as they can pay the bills. The only momentum is downward. Meanwhile, they shoo away opportunities which would be to their long-term good–like merging with a nearby church. Such a move would make both churches stronger. No longer stuck in survival mode, they could devote resources ┬áto ministry.

It makes compelling sense, in theory. But in practice, too many issues prevent it from happening–issues of pride, control, hope, or a historic enmity with the nearby church. I think that’s what prevented my mom’s home church from merging with a nearby UB church. When they could no longer pay the bills, they sold the church for a private home. I was told that the new home decor included beer cans lined up on the altar rail.

That’s a constant lament and frustration at the national office–that weak UB churches located near each other refuse to join forces for a brighter future. I’m sure this is an issue in every denomination.

We’ve had local church mergers, and the result has always been a stronger church–PraisePoint in Willshire, Ohio; New Horizons in Rockford, Ohio; Lake View in Camden, Mich.; and a few others. A number of other UB churches are in a position to merge, and it would thrill my heart to see it happen.

And it would thrill the heart of people in those churches to be part of something with momentum. That sure beats existing under the downer cloud of “just paying the bills.”

4 Comments
  • Ddunten
    Posted at 12:04h, 25 November

    AMEN!!! I couldn’t agree more. I think of a county in Ohio that has 6 UB churches and another 3 churches within 5 miles. Only two are full-time and growing. (One in the county and another just over the border.) I always think, “What if” some of the churches did what Lakeview did and merge. Would they actually be stronger for God’s kingdom. With the right heart and attitude, I believe so.

  • bkittle
    Posted at 09:13h, 26 November

    I agree. I think a long-misundersttod strategy for kingdom growth has been church mergers. As some one who has been through one, I can say that there are many hurdles to overcome but they can ultimately be wonderful catalysts for deeper discipleship and ultimately healthy, vital ministries. We have experienced some of the growth pains of merging churches but we have also seen the fruit of our labor! What blessings these strategies can be when approached with a Kingdom attitude!

  • Pastor Adam Will
    Posted at 11:13h, 26 November

    I agree that mergers are something to be considered, but sometimes they just won’t work. In my county in rural SE Ohio, there are two UB churches. The one I pastor and the other is where I grew up. They are 15 miles apart, which isn’t so bad. But they are have completely different “personalities”. One is central to the county, but my congregation is on the edge of the county and reaches people from different communities. Could both help each other a lot more? Absolutely. But a merger of two ineffective churches in this case would create just one ineffective church.

  • Dalton Jenkins
    Posted at 11:35h, 29 November

    I agree with your blog. Consideration should also be given as to how churches can work together to help revive and build up churches that are not ministering effectively.
    Considering that we are way behind in church planting and we have a low replacement rate for dying churches and population growth. Other problems that we are facing in the North American Churches are diversity of the harvest, an increasing large harvest, lack of harvesters, the lack of focus in the Church, a dying Church and an unclear presentation of the Gospel. According to Ed Stetzer and Mike Dobson in the book Come Back Churches, 70 to 80 percent of North American Churches are in decline and 3,500 to 4,000 U.S. churches close every year. According to the Leadership Journal, 340,000 churches are in need of church revitalization.
    Therefore if we do not address these issues we will be combining and compounding the problem.

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