November 6, 2017

A Conversation with Tod Bolsinger


Center for Congregations President Tim Shapiro spoke with Tod Bolsinger of Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Canoeing the Mountains. Below are snippets of their conversation. Tim: Early in your book you share your epiphany “that your people need you to lead them even more than preach to them” (page 36). If preaching, teaching and…

October 25, 2017

Theologian of the Year


I know a pastor who chooses a theologian to study in-depth every year. In 2013, he chose Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He read Life Together, Ethics and Letters and Papers from Prison and watched a documentary on Bonhoeffer’s work. This pastor taught a three-month Sunday evening class on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s world view. In 2014, this pastor’s theologian of…

October 11, 2017

The Only One Who Wasn’t Lost


“The future is already here, it is just on the margins.”  -Dave Gibbons, author and pastor of Newsong Church, Santa Ana, California   On February 11, 1805, a sound rang out through Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery that they had never expected to hear. Not the roar of a grizzly bear, not the thunder…

September 19, 2017

Making Planned Giving Work


Planned giving doesn’t need to be a complicated challenge for your congregation. By following these principles, your congregation can start securing the financial future of your ministries. Everyone needs a will. Some people assume planned giving only applies to the very wealthy. The reality is that most people need a will, so a good starting…

September 11, 2017

The Practical Implementation of Appreciative Inquiry


In recent years, many congregations have asked about the use of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). Appreciative Inquiry Appreciative Inquiry is the process of identifying, considering and leveraging strengths. It is inclusive, engaging the entire congregation, in asking important questions such as, “what gives life to our congregation when it functions at its best?” Implementing AI Many pastors and…

August 10, 2017

Three Questions for Every Building Project


There are three questions to ask regarding almost any building project your congregation is considering. Addressing these questions can help your project succeed. When building projects go well, they add to the effectiveness of your faith community. When they don’t go well, they can have long-term negative effects. These three key questions can keep you…

July 13, 2017

Disappointment: Learning from Inevitable Setbacks


New projects fill congregational life with excitement and hope. They can be a time of community cooperation, deep visioning and relationship-building. No matter the project, though, you are likely to experience disappointment somewhere along the way. In my book How Your Congregation Learns, I’ve written: “Congregations aren’t magically protected from disappointment. All kinds of good…

May 31, 2017

Program Planning and Congregational Learning


Your congregation is likely working on something new right now. You may be exploring the possibility of a youth mission trip. Or maybe your finance team wants to take an entirely new approach to the annual fund drive. When your congregation takes on something first-hand, your organization actually engages in learning to do something new.…

April 4, 2017

Relationships: Clergy and Congregation


The vitality of the relationship between clergy and the congregation is almost always an indicator of the degree to which a congregation is flourishing. In the best situations, the relationship between clergy and lay leaders is characterized by a particular kind of affection that is unique from other relationships. It includes respect, but it is…

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