The Illusion of Congregational "Happiness"

by Gilbert R. Rendle. The Alban Institute, 1997.

This article argues that focusing on complaints in the hope of increasing congregational happiness leads only to additional and competing complaints rather than to increased happiness for a congregation and its leaders. The search for congregational "happiness" forces leaders to focus on 'problem' questions rather than 'purpose and identity' questions. Many complaints—and the ineffectiveness of trying to "fix" them—stem from the increasing diversity of expectations in our congregations. The key to successful leadership is to "unhook" the system of evaluation, turning instead to a culture of understanding and communication. Originally published in two parts ("On Not Fixing the Church" and "Unhooking the System").