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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?

4 thoughts on “Merge???

  1. I love MERGE as the name for your business. It’s a wonderful descriptor for the intersection of faith and life outside our little cocoon of church friends.

    When I look at my life, the picture that comes to mind is the way my experiences “merge” into a common thread woven throughout my life preparing me for the opportunities God is calling me to now. Just as you write of the ramp from one freeway onto another where you couldn’t see the new road until you got to the top of the ramp, God has led me to places where I couldn’t see where I was going until I got to a certain place – I had to follow him (sometimes kicking and screaming) until I got a better perspective. And even then I had to make decisions, hopefully with the help of the Holy Spirit, about how to proceed into the new place he was leading me.

    Today this is a place of merging the experiences of my life into where God is directing me; serving others as they drive onto that ramp and helping them trust until they get to the top of the ramp, then walking with them as they determine how to merge into the new opportunities God has for them on the path they are now to travel. Exciting, challenging, risky; all those words apply. But if we don’t merge into the places God is calling us to live out our faith, we will miss the best ride of our lives – and the opportunity to participate in God’s transforming work in the world.

  2. Well said, Rhonda! I love how you are coming alongside others as they head onto the life-change ramp, merging into something new and exciting. You are so right about missing the best ride of our lives when we allow the “blind spot” to keep us from answering God’s invitation. It may indeed seem challenging, but having you coach them through the transition will help manage the risk as well as add some fun to the process!

  3. I like the word Merge because by the time you see that word on a sign, you only have two choices – either figure out a way to get on board or stop completely (and cause a massive traffic jam). So often I have found myself trying to decide something instead of just going where God is leading anyway. You can get on fast or slow, but ultimately, you have no choice but to go where He is taking you. (And this is tough for control freaks like me!) Thanks for the message, Andee!

  4. Good point, Andrea, about the timing. I tend to speed up rather than slow to a stop, but that’s not always the best strategy, either. In trying to shift the culture in our churches from sitting to serving, sometimes the best thing we can do is slow down in order to give folks a chance to catch the vision. (However, coming to a dead stop is generally not helpful.) The trick is gauging the flow and direction before merging. In other words, assess the culture of your congregation regularly and make the appropriate course corrections. Slow down if necessary but, for heaven’s sake, don’t stop!

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