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…

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…

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