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Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work Hardcover – April 24, 2012

38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1118131305 ISBN-10: 1118131304 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Thousands of Protestant churches are perplexed by plateaued or declining enrollments, while other congregations nearby thrive. Is there a way for them to combine forces, drawing on both their strengths in ways that increase their missional impact?

Church merger consultant Jim Tomberlin and award-winning writer Warren Bird make the case that mergers today work best not with two struggling churches but with a vital, momentum-filled lead church partnering with one or more joining churches. Based on solid research and practical experience, the authors provide a hands-on guide so that lead churches and joining churches can each understand the issues, select an appropriate model, and develop strategies that will create a positive, healthy merger.

This much-needed resource describes the range of mergers for strong, stable, stuck, and struggling churches. While many congregations are motivated by survival, an increasing number identify "mission" as their primary impetus. No matter what type of merger a church may be considering, the authors address key questions about the process: How can a merger help a church go forward? How will a merger process unfold? Where can a declining church find another congregation to join? What are the pitfalls that both pastor and congregation should avoid? How can "better together" lead to more, rather than fewer, life-giving, high-impact, reproducing churches?

No matter what your motivation for merging your church with another—to begin a new church lifecycle, cross racial lines, reach more people for Christ, multiply your church's impact, or better serve your local community—Better Together will give you the tools you need to create a thriving new entity.

From the Back Cover

Praise for BETTER TOGETHER

"Better Together is certain to become the standard reference for churches that see mergers as a strategic tool for kingdom impact. Tomberlin and Bird give us useful language, a helpful guide to the opportunities and challenges of church mergers, and the tools to navigate a successful merger."
Andy Stanley, senior pastor, North Point Ministries, Alpharetta, Georgia

"As part of the Ginghamsburg team that engineered a merger to create a 'new,' thriving, urban congregation, I deeply appreciate the information, inspiration, and practical toolkit in Better Together. It will help your church navigate the pitfalls and potholes that we had to discover the hard way."
Karen Smith, executive director, Missional Operations, Ginghamsburg Church, Tipp City, Ohio

"Better Together will become the go-to book on how to do mergers well—the kind of mergers that are about multiplication more than subtraction and expansion more than elimination. Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird provide invaluable help through research, great examples, practical guidance, and helpful language."
Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research; author and blogger, edstetzer.com

"As Mars Hill expands, we are experiencing exactly what Tomberlin and Bird are reporting—multisite churches have an opportunity to merge with existing churches to multiply gospel effectiveness. This is a very timely and helpful book for our church and many others."
Mark Driscoll, founding pastor, Mars Hill Church; founder, Resurgence; co-founder, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

"Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird are on the front lines of a church world changing so rapidly most of us have a hard time keeping up. Better Together is the best kind of work: based on real-life facts, marked by thoughtful interpretation, and filled with a vision for the beauty and flourishing of the church. This book could open untold doors for your church and ministry."
John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church; author, The Me I Want to Be

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118131304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118131305
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darren Cronshaw on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In past decades, church mergers were often two struggling churches hoping for survival and coming together as equals, often not being very fruitful in partnership and declining to the level of the largest of the two churches. But there is a growing trend for more vibrant partnerships forming between a strong vital church (called the “lead church”) and other churches that need fresh life and momentum (called “joining churches’). Instead of being motivated by survival, they are called together by a vision for mission and for doing more together than they can do apart. 80 percent of 300,000 Protestant American churches are declining or plateaued. 1 percent close each year, often not prepared for the cost of change. But 2 percent of them merge annually and another 5 percent have been talking about it. But how can they discern whether a merge is an appropriate step and then navigate the process?

Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird explore the models, processes, opportunities and pitfalls of church mergers in their Leadership Network book Better Together. Tomberlin pioneered the multisite strategy at Willow Creek and founded MultiSite Solutions that consults to churches exploring multisites or mergers. Bird is the research director of Leadership Network, through which he has been doing extensive research over five years on church mergers, multisite development, revitalization and planting. They argue that church merging is becoming recognized as a viable revitalization strategy for stable but stuck churches, and also strong churches who are dissatisfied with the status quo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin zinck on May 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The book helped me to formally process what I intuitively recognized, but could not necessarily articulate. There are no earth shattering concepts or complete answers to specific questions about the circumstances of your church merger. However, the insight and experience brought together by the authors causes an otherwise novice to understand the process and think systematically through it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a valuable book for those in vibrant, growing churches and for those in struggling churches. Sometimes one plus one equals more than two. Sometimes churches can do far more together, than they can do alone. When done properly, churches can merge and together their ministries multiply. This is about sharing vision, resources, and structure. In this book you will learn about the merged church structures that have worked best for the growth of ministry. Denominational churches have learned how to merge failing small churches with a more successful growing church and see the churches growing together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 5683winston on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're thinking about incorporating a church into your church or be incorporated this book is very useful. The information seems well researched. There are great anecdotal examples and hard numbers that give us a good picture of what's happening across the country and what it looks like on a local level. Tomberlin and Bird do a great job of pointing out some obvious and not so obvious pitfalls for church mergers. Of course they start out by telling us why it's a great idea and why it's the latest greatest movement. Better Together is a great resource for those leading church mergers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For any church congregation considering any type of joining with another group this should be required reading. This book covers a large number of pit falls to avoid plus has a lot of positive information and direction coming from successful church marriages. And this truly has to be considered a marriage with definite understandings of who is leading and who is to be the support function with a lot of consideration given to all parties with the clear understanding that change must happen or the conversations would never have been started in the first place.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tomberlin & Bird do an excellent job describing dynamics that work & those that hinder churches in the merger process. Having worked with 2 church mergers and 3 church dissolutions, BETTER TOGETHER confirms many things to have perceived. However, they take merger considerations much further. There is no need to wait until a church is in its final life cycle stage to begin merger conversations. The Appendices alone make the book worth the purchase.
HAL ANDRE BILBO, Lead Missionary, Stanly Baptist Association (NC)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It had great content on mergers. However, I deducted two stars for their use of Scripture. Let's face it. The early church did not have a corporate business model for church mergers (take overs). The early church was exceedingly generous and sacrificed to care for other churches not look for opportunities to take them over and make a multi-site empire. However, mergers are part of our western church landscape and if your church must go through one then you should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
When a church merger opportunity came to us, "Better Together" served as an invaluable guide in helping me think thoroughly through the big picture, reflect on the spiritual dynamics, and grapple with the potential landmines in such a church merger. Authors Jim Tomberlin & Warren Bird led me to ask the right questions and maintain a missional perspective throughout the process. Church mergers is more than a "good idea"; it may be a "God idea".
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