November 13, 2018

Relationships: A Millennial Perspective


In a gathering of congregational leaders, the word “millennial” enters the conversation. A wave of uneasiness settles in — judgment, honest confusion or distress. What is the future of our congregation with these young people? As a church-going millennial and congregational consultant, I observe these conversations through a few different lenses. Here’s what you should…

October 22, 2018

The Multicultural Congregation


I’m having more conversations with congregations that characterize themselves as multicultural. For example, I met with a governing board of a Caucasian congregation that had recently welcomed 20 refugees from Ethiopia. A board member said, “We sing songs that are new to us.” Another pastor called the Center for Congregations looking for resources related to…

September 17, 2018

From Hallowed Space to Holograms: A Conversation with Hayim Herring


Center for Congregations President Tim Shapiro spoke with Hayim Herring, consultant, nonprofit organizational futurist and author of Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World: Platforms, People, and Purpose. Below are snippets of their conversation. Tim: Thanks to you and your colleague Dr. Teri Elton for introducing us to the phrase “Foresight is 20/20.” In…

July 25, 2018

Foresight is 20/20


“Foresight is 20/20” is not a typographical error. Rather, it relates to a theme that Dr. Terri Elton and I wrote about in our recent book, Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World: Platforms, People, and Purpose. Foresight is one capacity that will enable congregations to thrive in the future. The velocity of change…

July 16, 2018

One Budgeting Idea when Funds are Scarce


Sometimes funds are scarce. God has created the world abundant with water, trees, blue skies and people we love. Though we have what we need, we don’t have everything. In congregations, this lack is sometimes evident regarding budgets. Budget realities The finance team would like to increase the budget for youth ministry, but the cost…

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…

June 6, 2018

Your Caring Congregation


Congregations have long been places that nurture the care of souls. Long ago, the early church created strategies and tactics to care for widows and children. Nowadays, care in congregations involves visits to the sick, end-of-life care, support for grieving families, celebrating life transitions, encouragement for older adults, befriending those who experience loneliness and so…

May 16, 2018

How Do You Use Social Media?


How does your congregation use Facebook? If you are a clergyperson, do you manage Twitter or Instagram for ministry? How about Pinterest or Snapchat or YouTube? An instrument for ministry The congregations that make the best use of Facebook and other social media are the ones that view these tools as instruments for ministry, not…

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…

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