While that title won’t fit on Twitter feeds, it sums up the journey that we have been on as a church in the last six years. Last Sunday marked our one year anniversary of the day our church plant merged with a turnaround church to become a multisite church. The amount of risk in any one of those words is enormous, yet we are thrilled with the outcome at this pivotal point in our story!
I thought I would share some of the harder lessons we learned on an adventure that we would never have scripted.
1. Our Vancouver campus (original site) unexpectedly bore extreme weight in the merge. We went in thinking that Battle Ground would take the most energy to assimilate into the North Creek structure. What we didn’t take into accurate account is that pulling 35+ strong leaders out of a church of 200 would cause all systems to be reevaluated and restructured. Now, a year later, we have grown back to our original numbers and filled in the gaps with new amazing leaders. It is multiplying at it’s best, but the process was daunting at times because we were faced with rebuilding two churches at the same time. Battle Ground, on the other hand, had 35+ new leaders dropped into about 40 people that we merged with. Together they hit the ground running with new help and new direction.
2. The word “Merge” is not an accurate word for two churches creating two campuses of one church. In hindsight I think a better word would have assisted the process, but we still haven’t come up with a word that sums it all up! The dictionary defines “Merge” as: to combine, blend, or unite gradually so as to blur the individuality or individual identity of: They voted to merge the two branch offices into a single unit. It was never intended by either party to gradually blur the individuality of our churches. Battle Ground had been in a turnaround for a few years and was looking to redefine it’s DNA. Vancouver was looking to expand it’s DNA. The word “merge” gave off the impression that we were taking bits and pieces of DNA to create a new baby. Our terminology had to be defined at every turn, which created a lot of extra weight.
3. We ripped the Band-aid off so fast I’m not sure people even had time to gasp in pain (myself included!). At the request of the leadership and board of the church we merged with, we moved fast…really fast. Within 35 days of meeting the people of Maple Grove, the church was painted and decorated end to end, the leadership team was nearly completely different, every system was different, and together we launched the first public service with thousands of advertisements. That wasn’t our original intention. In our initial thoughts, we planned a much slower approach. Although there were some difficult parts of this strategy, in hindsight, I think doing things so fast actually helped give clarity. There was no question about how we were going to do things in the future…the future was staring everybody in the face…at both campuses simultaneously! That being said, it felt like a whirlwind for the first six months and took a great deal of adjusting to for our leadership team and congregation.
Those are just some of the little bumps along the way, but I do want to reiterate that we LOVED this journey and still do. It has been fun watching all of the chess pieces move as God directs and guides His people. I think the bottom line lesson is that in anything that God asks you to do, you’ll find difficult parts or you’ll look back and think about how you might have done it differently. However, it should never stop you from walking forward in what He has asked you to do!