One of the solutions to the problem of overall declining enrollments at seminaries and theological schools is consolidation or merging.

In the seminary leader's daydream, consolidation solves a host of challenges — particularly if you merge with a larger institution like a university. Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and California Lutheran University are doing it. Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and Lenoir-Rhyne University merged last summer. Even the Mennonites have gotten in on the act: Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary is now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, a graduate division of Fresno Pacific University.

I'm not an expert on institutional mergers, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that this kind of venture is fraught with knots to untangle and obstacles to overcome... no matter how good the idea looks on paper.

One recent study, which came to my attention through an article on, looked at corporate mergers and the problems of combining two different cultures. It seems that even when all your ducks are in a row — missions aligned, mutual benefit clear, stakeholders excited — the differences in how two groups communicate, deliberate, solve problems, and set goals can become a problem.

Some experimental economists have devised a study to explore how these culture norms evolve and how they can hinder communication. The good news: these problems can be overcome with a little effort.

You can read the article here: “Culture Clash: Even a Merger Made in Heaven Can Get Off to a Rocky Start.”