July 10, 2018

Doing Something New? Five Key Questions


Is your congregation planning something new? If so, there are five key questions you can ask yourself and the group with which you are working. The five questions apply to almost every kind of congregational project. These key questions provide focus. Responses to these questions will provide structure for your work. You and your colleagues…

March 26, 2018

Revisiting Bowen Family Systems


During the 1950s, a psychiatrist named Murray Bowen created a new intervention for those with family members suffering from schizophrenia. Two decades later, Rabbi Edwin Friedman used Bowen’s theory to help clergy think about congregational life. Friedman’s acclaimed book, Generation to Generation, launched the theory as a helpful leadership method for congregations. Congregational leadership By…

February 28, 2018

It’s About Life


A generation ago, congregational observers noted that congregations experiencing growth were those which gave clear-cut, right and wrong, direction about life. I want to note a subtle correction to this observation. Vital congregations are those which give more attention to the lives of adherents than the needs of the institution. Congregations which are flourishing are…

January 24, 2018

The Unique Experience of Church Planting


Church planting is different than establishing satellites, multi-sites, a new worship service or a separate non-profit. Church planting is establishing a new congregation in a new location. This process is rewarding, yet it requires hard work and a varied skillset. Below are four things I’ve learned about church planting. The gifts of the leader may…

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 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…

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.…

November 8, 2016

Conflict


The pastor could not sleep after the team meeting. It didn’t help that the meeting wasn’t over until 10:30 p.m. It also didn’t help that he kept replaying the moment when he lost his temper. “As long as I am in this congregation, we will never hire a full-time musician.” That’s what a long-time member…

1 2
1 2