Many have asked me why I chose “Merge” as the name for my consulting practice. I have to admit, it’s a bit strange. What do you think of when you encounter that word? I think of a particular route I used to take to work every day, one which required that I transfer from one road to another via a ramp. I would travel up the ramp, unable to see the flow of traffic until I reached the top. Then it was time for some quick thinking: Do I slow down and try to squeeze in between two moving cars? Or should I speed up and try to get in front of the car that’s coming? How fast is it going? Can I make it? Uh-oh… what about the car who came up the ramp in front of me? Is it really going to going to drive in the merge lane until it runs out? Or is it going to stop and force me to swerve around it? I needed a strategy for merging into the flow of traffic!
For many, integrating their faith into the flow of their everyday lives is a challenge. When conducting a Bible study, we refer to that component as “practical application.” It’s critical, isn’t it? Without a strategy for applying what we learn, it simply becomes superfluous knowledge. As ministry leaders, it is necessary that we help those we lead to develop strategies to integrate–merge!–their faith with their actions. One such strategy is helping folks discover how God has equipped them with spiritual gifts to use in the service of others.
If a church employs a strategy of gifts discovery, it needs to be able to incorporate those gifts into the life of the body. When we read 1 Corinthians 12 we understand that the gifts work together for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. So, the church needs another strategy to merge people with particular gifts into ministries that need those gifts to function rightly.
Thinking of the church as a whole, we search for ways to fit into our community. We look for openings where we can merge into the flow of neighborhood life. If we are going to be the best church for the community (borrowing Rick Rusaw’s and Eric Swanson’s phraseology), we need to have a strategy. How do we make the most of the gifts God has brought into our fellowship to serve the needs in our community in practical ways, so that we become the Body of Christ–alive and serving–rather than just talking about it?
These are just three reasons why I chose the name “Merge” to describe what I do. So… what picture comes to your mind when you encounter the word “merge?” How does it relate to your ministry? your leadership?