The Life Cycle and Stages of Congregational Development


article
by George Bullard. 2001. Accessed October 5, 2017.

The developmental life of congregations follows a predictable trajectory. Veteran pastor, congregational consultant and coach George Bullard presents a life cycle model that can help leaders understand their congregation’s current life stage and anticipate inevitable transitions. It can also help them discern when to reclaim or re-cast a congregation’s vision in order to ensure continued vitality. Bullard discusses five phases: Early Growth, Late Growth, Prime/Plateau, Early Aging, and Late Aging. Each phase involves two stages characterized by predominant organizing principles. For example, the Early Growth stages of birth and infancy are fueled by vision and relationships. Congregations in their prime exhibit a balance of vision, relationships, program, and management. Aging congregations are driven by programs and, increasingly, management. This article offers valuable insights into organizational dynamics and could be especially helpful for congregations navigating life stage transitions or facing decline. A Life Cycle graphic presents Bullard’s framework at a glance.

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