August 2020 Resource

Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work
Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work


Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird


Josey-Bass, Inc, San Francisco, CA

Book Review By:

Melvin Amerson

Premise of the book:
Congregations can effectively merge with another church or churches with shared values and missional focus, strategic discernment conversations, and adoption of the appropriate merger model.

What this book does:
Better Together is an excellent resource on church mergers. The authors with their extensive experience, study and research have produced an exceptional guide for clergy and laity who are exploring a need or interest in merging with a church or churches. They share common challenges and issues with most mergers, along with developing strategies, and the exploration of various merger models.


Part One: The New Merger Landscape
Chapter 1: God is Doing Something New
Chapter 2: Four Models for Healthy Mergers
Chapter 3: Missional, Multisite, Multiethnic, and Other Merger Motives

Part Two: How Healthy Churches Mergers Work
Chapter 4: Stages and Speed of a Merger
Chapter 5: How to Measure Success
Chapter 6: Why Merger Fail
Chapter 7: Financial and Legal Aspects
Chapter 8: Personnel Changes

Part Three: Your Next Steps
Chapter 9: Determining Whether Your Church is a Good Merger Candidate
Chapter 10: How to Start the Merger Conversation
Chapter 11: Self-assessment for Merger Readiness
Chapter 12: Exercise
Chapter 13: Managing Pain and Change
Chapter 14: Where Do You Go from Here?

What are some important insights:
Tomberlin and Bird share many insights, questions and how-to-start conversation examples throughout this resource. Church mergers range from or a combination of strong, stable, stuck and struggling congregations. There are varying types of mergers: restart, replant, partnership, adoption, and collaboration. Mergers are not a strategy for maintaining the status quo. They are a strategy for dramatic change. Mission-driven church mergers have tremendous potential to exponentially expand the impact of strong, vibrant churches as well as to revitalize plateaued and declining churches.

Possibilities as a resource for churches:
Better Together is an excellent resource for denominational leaders, clergy, and church leaders who desire to strengthen or expand their mission fields through mergers or intentional partnerships.

Melvin Amerson

Rev. Melvin Amerson is a member of the Texas Annual Conference and serves as a Resource Specialist/Area Representative at TMF. His experience and passion lie in encouraging and developing generous, faithful leaders and congregations.

Melvin is the author of Celebrating the Offering, Fruit for Celebrating the Offering and Stewardship in African American Churches: A New Paradigm, as well as several articles covering topics from generosity, leadership and visioning. Currently, he serves as a board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and is a nationally-recognized generosity consultant known for his engaging presentations.

Melvin obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, a Master of Divinity degree concentrating in Christian education from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University.