Merger or Takeover…does it save the Church?

Posted: March 12, 2012 by Ty in Current Events, Musings, Spirituality
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Yip I am using the capital “C” church here, as in the “Catholic (universal)”.  See as I have written previous, the institutional church is in decline (okay let’s be brutally honest, in most cases it is on life support).  So there has been three  solutions that have taken hold and are happening:

1) Mergers. This seems simple, during the parish explosion churches were popping up just as quickly as they are closing now from all denoms. Which means geographically in a very small area there is multiple congregations from the same denomination, or similair backgrounds…as numbers decline, buildings crumble, they come together to share resources, split costs.

This seems at first blush to be quite the way to save the “local church”. However it means the congregations coming together must be willing to start fresh with a new identity as a united body and not be coexisting on old stories/traditions. In some instances it has worked moderately well (Wildrose United comes to mind or Campbell-Stone United).

Unfortunately more often than not the merger does not produce a new vitality but just extends the inevitable upon life support as the congregation continues in its new reality to move towards inevitable demise (multitudes of Catholic parishes throughout North America are discovering this, as well as some Anglican & United within our own city).

2) Take over. Whether we want to admit it or not, throughout the 1980’s & 1990’s created the perpetuation of the business model of church. Rockpointe Alliance in Calgary is an example of this, as they came about from the takeove of a Baptist congregation that imploded when they were another Alliance branded church. Now has this turned out well? For all intents with multiple sites throughout Calgary one would say yes. And there is a long history of closed church buildings being taken over by other churches.

But what needs to be asked in the process of church through this type of more aggressive merger is what harm befalls the members, the hurt and pain caused. Same as with a merger that is mutual there are still journeys that need to be taken.

3) Moving Congregation. The most famous example of this I know of in Calgary is of Symons Valley United Church that moved from Beddington just blocks away from Centre Street Church to a new location in the suburbs. Started as a new plant, and then built a building, a great pioneer spirit but struggling financially even more and the reality being that no one knows what the future holds with steps out in faith like this.

So do any of these 3 build the reign of God?

Do any of these 3 bring Heaven here?

This is the toughest question in life as the insitution attempts to preserve and reperpetuate itself. But what truly needs to be asked in these instances though is what changes if we shift attempts from the programs, the epic monuments to institutions (buildings we cannot afford), acknowledge authentic life cycles (let parishes close and new life to birth in the communities) and we actually allow, as John XXIII stated with Vatican II for the Holy Spirit to blow through the church.  What happens if we let the Spirit lead our reformation? Our restoration comes through Jesus and living of His teachings?

What happens when we acknowledge and celebrate what has worked in the past, but stop trying to preserve and realize that if we are truly the Body of Christ, it means we are an organic living organism that will change, die, shed dead cells, regrow new ones, and the body we were yesterday would not be the same as the Body we are today.

Essentially from my view, in a rather dusty pew some days, what is stopping the church from re-emerging is simply we have confined God in our own predetermined paradigms and won’t let Her out.

But what if we let God play?

What if when confronted with death, we said “God we are yours, you brought us to the dance, now show us how to dance in our new world?”

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