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323 results for Learning
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Program Planning in Faith Communities
Curator Tim Shapiro
Collection Updated
Appreciative Inquiry
Curator Susan Weber
article article
The Learning Congregation
This essay discusses eight behaviors of congregations that learn well.
For The CRG Created For The CRG
Program Planning and Congregational Learning

Your congregation is likely working on something new right now. You may be exploring the possibility of a youth mission trip. Or maybe your finance team wants to take an entirely new approach to the annual fund drive. When your congregation takes on something first-hand, your organization actually engages in learning to do something new.

What is it like to plan a new activity for your congregation?

You instinctively know that you have to learn skills and new ways of thinking to accomplish a new project. That learning process is important. After working with more than 1,000 congregations, I’ve observed how congregations learn. Leaders and members go through discernible passages of learning, what I call the learning journey.

The Learning Journey

When you intentionally embrace the learning journey, program planning and implementation are often more successful. The learning journey helps you do more than a “quick fix” to sustain the congregation’s operations. The learning can help inform and align your congregation’s activities, so you can ultimately impact people’s lives.

For the last five years, I’ve been exploring how congregations learn and how such learning leads to effectively addressing challenges and opportunities. I’m excited that the book on this subject How Your Congregation Learns, published by Rowman and Littlefield, is now available. It will help you walk through the exploration, disappointments, rewards and challenges of your learning journey. Another excellent book on the subject of program planning is Projects That Matter by Kathleen Cahalan.

Let me know your thoughts on congregations as learning communities and the challenges of program planning by emailing me at tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org

For The CRG Created For The CRG
Disappointment: Learning from Inevitable Setbacks

New projects fill congregational life with excitement and hope. They can be a time of community cooperation, deep visioning and relationship-building. No matter the project, though, you are likely to experience disappointment somewhere along the way.

In my book How Your Congregation Learns, I’ve written:

“Congregations aren’t magically protected from disappointment. All kinds of good projects grind to a halt. When this happens, you can’t help but feel disappointed. Natural and inevitable feelings of sadness arrive. That is the way of disillusionment. Almost every successful congregational endeavor contains some dissatisfaction.” (How Your Congregations Learns, page 73, published by Rowman & Littlefield).

The experience of disappointment invites the possibility of three different responses regarding the initiative: “No,” “Not yet” and “Yes, let’s continue working but with some adaptations.”

Essential values

To discern which of these responses is the best, reflect on how the new initiative aligns with the primary religious claims and commitments of your congregation. Or, put another way, how does the initiative support, in its current form, the essential values of your faith community?

If there is strong alignment, then it is often worth moving beyond the disappointment, making appropriate adaptations.

If there is a gap between what you are trying to achieve and the values you espouse, then perhaps this is not the right time to continue, or it is best to explore initiatives more in line with your commitments.

In chapter 5 of the book, I provide additional considerations about how to address disappointment in relationship to a new congregational activity.

Resources

If you would like to talk more about this dynamic, email me at tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org  If you would like a free copy of the book How Your Congregations Learns, let me know via email.

You may also want to consider the articles Evaluating Your Ministry and Why We Aren’t Learning.

article article
Why We Aren’t Learning
This article identifies four factors that keep congregational leaders from adapting.
web resource
My Jewish Learning
My Jewish Learning is a one-stop resource for individuals and families looking for information on Jewish culture, beliefs, history, news, views, and more.
book book Updated
Generations Together: Caring, Praying, Learning, Celebrating, & Serving Faithfully
This comprehensive guide helps congregations lay the groundwork for establishing vibrant intergenerational churches.
article article
Getting the Most from an Education Event
This article provides practical guidance on how to get the most out of educational events.
organization organization
Ministry Incubators: Bringing Ideas Home to Roost
This organization is a incubator program and consulting group for early-stage missional entrepreneurs. They help congregations facilitate the move from ministry concept to implementation through coaching, peer learning communities, consulting and events.
book book
How Your Congregation Learns: The Learning Journey from Challenge to Achievement
This resource lays out a process for congregational leaders to move from identifying a challenge to solving the issue, a transition that takes form in the learning journey.
article article
Four Guiding Principles for Managing a Polarized Congregation
This article equips leaders to navigate conflict in the congregation.
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