Sunday, March 8, 2009

Satellite churches and Annexes

Can a large church annex a small, struggling one?

I wrote last week about satellite churches. Lizard-eater quoted me on her blog:

She also said
This is very interesting to me as I'm in a dwindling small church ... a church that does so many things right ... but yeah, we can't offer what the big ones are. I've never heard it phrased as Morales did, but it seems to be very honest and very on point.

I like the satellite idea, but it seems to me it needs to be that way from the inception of the satellite church. Could a large church "annex" us successfully? I don't think so. It's just a completely different way of doing church.

Right. Rev Morales had more to say on this. His church was in 'annexation' discussions with a struggling suburban church which wanted to have a merger. After a long meeting of the two boards plus Morales, he said "Look, when a thriving large church and a small struggling church join, it is not a merger. It's an acquisition. Yes, we are going to make some big changes in the way things are done. Yes, we're going to do them right away - because the way you have been doing it hasn't been working and isn't serving your people." [* quoted from memory over a week ago, so take it for what it's worth.]

So the deal didn't go through. Rev Morales also said, "Look, when a church has been small for more than 10 years, then small gets into their DNA."

Annexation didn't go through in suburban Denver. That doesn't mean it's a doomed model, though. That is to say -- the church I attend was fo
unded as a fellowship movement church. Supposedly that movement was a failure. But we just crossed the 300-member mark. Lizard-eater's church punches above its weight. They might well be able to pull off something where other churches have floundered.

But you can't do it without help. When my church got its first part-time minister, we split his services with a small UU fellowship five hours away from here. RIght now, in my metro area -- all within a two hour drive of each other - there are four struggling UU churches, none have a minister, even part time. Wise heads in each of the congregations know they need to hire a pastor. But near as I can tell, they are not getting any guidance to get together and offer a joint package, to pool resources. They need to split the services of a one full time minister, and they need somebody to show them how.

Aside: I didn't know Lizard-Eater had quoted me in her blog. I read it regularly; I'd just missed that post. But last night, at our pledge dinner, a new member of the church came up and said "I saw you quoted in a blog I was reading -- what is a satellite church?"

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