August 26, 2019

Key Practices of Thriving Congregations


How would you describe a thriving congregation? Perhaps a thriving congregation has young people attending worship. Another thriving congregation might manage conflict well. At the Center for Congregations in Indiana, we interact with all kinds of flourishing congregations. Here’s what we’re learning from faith communities that thrive.   Healthy Strategies Focus on congregational assets rather…

July 1, 2019

Faith Life: A Millennial Perspective


Most people can carry a casual conversation with a young adult. If that seems like a challenge in your congregation, check out the first part of this blog Relationships: A Millennial Perspective. How about discussing values and faith beliefs with that younger generation? It’s accurate to say “times have changed.” In many parts of the…

May 13, 2019

Making Youth Ministry Matter


The purpose of youth ministry is to foster the personal development of faith, theology and relationships for young people ages 6th-12th grades. This usually happens through a variety of lessons, games, resources and relationships. But how do you know if your youth group is hitting the mark? The Center for Congregations has worked with more…

December 19, 2018

Latino Protestants: The Centrality of Church


Latino Protestants are experiencing remarkable growth, according to Pew Research Center. Pew reports that by 2030, half of all Latinos in America will be Protestant. While some gather in Latino megachurches – especially in the southwest – containing thousands of members, the great majority attend smaller congregations, often characterized by part-time pastors, relational intimacy formed…

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…

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…

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