This seminary textbook on “practical theology” will help congregational leaders who want to understand and fix messes or understand and build-on successes. It will be helpful to clergy in a new call. It will be valuable to the committee charged with celebrating a congregation’s milestone anniversary and the taskforce requesting a member survey or engaging a church consultant. A focused and purposeful method is advanced, studying the congregation using one of four frames: (1) Ecological-the congregation in the community and world, (2) Culture-the congregation’s distinct identity, (3) Resources-the congregation’s potential for impact, and (4) Process-how things get done. The prompting question or issue determines the frame. For example, if members are unwilling to serve on church council, consider a study using the “process” frame. The writers and editors, all experts in the comprehensive study of congregations, are teachers and administrators from Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish universities. A sample Parish Profile Inventory and survey suggestions for ways to assess demographic and religious involvement are offered as appendices.
Reviewed by Sue Edison-Swift