What if thousands of people drove past one another on the highway to worship at churches that weren’t located too far apart? What if both churches coordinated hundreds of small groups in their communities—groups studying different material and never working together to reach the city? When Christ’s Church of the Valley (Peoria, AZ) and Parkway Christian Church (Surprise, AZ) saw this scenario playing out in their shared mission field, they made a surprising decision—to merge both churches and do more together than they could apart.
The two churches, both located in suburbs of Phoenix, officially merged in April. Parkway Christian is now a campus of CCV and Parkway’s founding pastor, Trent Renner, now serves as the leader of this location and as a member of CCV’s teaching team. Renner planted Parkway in 1997 and took some criticism for the recent bold move.
“I have created a strong ‘home-team’ mentality in our church for the past 13 years, but we are all on the same team,” he says. “Frankly, territorialism is tiring. Parkway Christian Church is not mine, and ‘your’ church is not yours. It’s all God’s and we need to live like it.”
CCV senior pastor Don Wilson believes this merger could be an example for other churches to follow. “Church mergers may be the catalyst to launch the next revival in the American church,” he says. “My prayer is that our Restoration Movement churches will lead the way. We’ve always been known for unity; this is a tangible way for us to back that up.”
While many mergers occur because one of the churches is dying, both Parkway and CCV were healthy, thriving congregations. One elder from the Parkway church joined the CCV elders to form a united elder board, and the staff from each location merged to become one team.