The number of U.S. and Canadian churches merging–two or more individual churches joining to become a single church–has been slowly rising over recent decades.
These mergers can take many forms, including rebirths (a restart of an older church or one in decline), adoptions (one church becoming part of another), marriages (a healthy merger of equals), and reconciliations (a reunion of a church split).
Many of these churches are multisite—one church in two or more locations. Or they become multisite through the merger. In fact, one in three multisite campuses is created as the result of a church merger.
A recent Leadership Network survey of churches who had participated in a merger revealed that multisite churches rated their experiences higher than churches that consolidated into one location. This trend held across church sizes and distance apart.
Multisite churches also reported greater growth after a merger. One church in particular grew from approximately 50 attenders to 250 in just nine months—a fourfold increase! Even more encouraging, the survey indicated that many churches would consider a repeat merger in the future as a viable option for extending their reach into different communities.
These and further findings are summarized in Making Multisite Mergers Work: New Options for Being One Church in Two or MoreLocations by Warren Bird and Kristin Walters, which contains observations from 161 merger churches, comparing multisite mergers against those that aren’t multisite. The report includes insights into the cost of church mergers, the time it takes from negotiations to integration, and how various staff and pastoral transitions are handled.
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