Contributions From Brian Witwer
Liberating Hope: Daring to Renew the Mainline Church
This resource combats the widespread loss of church participants by calling on congregations to define a new mission --- one that involves an understanding of contemporary stewardship, transformational leadership skills, and mission engagement.
This website for The Alliance for Jewish Renewal encourages reform and revitalization of Judaism throughout the world by emphasizing meaningful spiritual practices, reinvigorating Jewish communities, developing leadership, creating scholarly and liturgical resources, and taking stands on social justice and environmental issues.
Revolution of Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community
This book details the story of a Jewish renewal in Massachusetts, and describes successful strategies such as a new form of provisional membership, so that other congregations may prosper as well.
The National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB)
This organization provides congregations with information about the Design/Build method of church building construction, and connects them with consultants who specialize in construction, design, furnishings, and technology installation.
National Association of Church Facilities Managers (NACFM)
This organization connects congregational facility managers through discussion groups, educational forums, and a yearly certification program. These opportunities allow managers to share new innovations, ask questions, and discuss solutions.
Lifelong Faith Journal
The Life Long Faith Journal is an online free magazine available in PDF format that covers a wide range of topics, such as: faith formation in a missional age, cultivating a community of practice, the emerging media and the gospel, church leaders and tech visionaries, hybrid networking, drawing children to the center of congregational life, faith formation in small congregations, less talk-more action, infant faith formation and doing children’ s ministry differently.
Faith & Form: The Interfaith Journal of Religion, Art and Architecture
Faith and Form is a journal published four times annually. Its mission is to provide and exchange knowledge, insight, and creativity among those who create and use art and architecture in a religious context. A non-profit organization, Faith & Form is the culmination of nearly 40 years of efforts of many dedicated leaders, volunteers, and staff.
The Serving Leader for the People of God: Five Powerful Actions That Will Transform Your Team, Your Church and Your Community
This resource balances insight from the business world with theological constructs to produce an easy-to-follow guide on leadership and the five actions readers can take to transform where they work.
The Hidden Lives of Congregations: Discerning Church Dynamics
This book takes leaders below the surface to unpack the corporate nature of church relationships and the invisible dynamics at play. Using the Bowen Systems theory to examine the workings of the church, congregational leaders can help the church fulfill its vision.
40 Days and 40 Bytes: Making Computers Work for Your Congregation
For congregations who wish to make more effective use of computer technology, this book is a well-crafted and helpful guide. It shares the expertise of Center for Congregations staff members who have worked with thousands of congregations. Included is not only a guide to computer technology itself, but a handy list of warnings, such as the importance of giving software a "test drive" before purchasing, the necessity of appropriate and adequate training, and over-spending on unnecessary features. Central to implementing both appropriate hardware and software is a careful analysis of the congregation's mission, goals, needs and expertise. Who will use it and for what purposes? The authors also warn against too much reliance on persons within the congregation to implement and maintain computer systems. There is more to the book than warnings. Also included are a good assessment form to gauge congregational needs, a series of questions to analyze congregational culture, and questions to facilitate how a congregational team can select software wisely.
Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (and How to Reverse it)
Based off the premise that charities more often hurt the people they hope to help than not, this resource recommends a new model for charitable groups that shifts from relief to the spiritual discipline of compassion.
Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back from the Dead, and Yours Can, Too
Written using the author's personal experience in renewing her church, this resource details her ten year journey and offers advice on how congregations can use similar strategies involving neighborhood outreach and internal growth.
Maintaining Your Holy Place: Synagogue Facilities
Originally published in 2000 with later revisions, this helpful article aids synagogue leadership in answering the question: "our facility is complete, now how do we manage it?" The article is a procedural manual for building use policies, safety issues, management and maintenance. It points out the importance of leadership and suggests duties of building committees and facilities managers. Also included are discussions of building security issues and the advisability of installing an external defibrillator. The article includes a very helpful appendix with sample forms including: Rules for Building Usage, Policies for 3rd party service providers (including caterers), a Rental Contract, Clean-up Policies, Friday and Saturday Worship Checklists, Policies Involving the Burial of Sacred Objects, and Fragrance Guidelines. While the article is written primarily for synagogue use, other religious facilities might benefit from reading the article. It is available in a free-PDF format online.
Seven Characteristics of Good Learners
Learning in congregations is a prerequisite to vitality and growth. Ministry teams that undertake their work with a willingness to acknowledge what they don't know and a pursuit of learning are more likely to build their capacity to address their challenges effectively. What is it that good learners know and practice? What contributes to good learning? Maryellen Weimer, PhD, offers this short one-page guide as part of the Teaching Professor Blog Series of Faculty Focus' Higher Education teaching strategies. While written from the perspective of individual learners in a higher education environment, this article offers pointers that could be used to develop ministry teams into communities of learning. These are the seven characteristics of good learners: 1) Good learners are curious; 2) Good learners pursue understanding diligently; 3) Good learners recognize that a lot of learning isn't fun; 4) Good learners make knowledge their own; 5) Good learners never run out of questions; 6) Good learners share what they have learned. Weimer provides the rationale for each of these points and careful elaboration is added. What might transpire if ministry teams seeking to learn in order to fulfill their mission more effectively acknowledged these characteristics and sought to build them?
Rejoice in Your Handiwork: Sacred Space and Synagogue Architecture, Parts 1 & 2
This two-part article, published by the Union for Reform Judaism, would be very helpful to synagogues considering a building program. Part 1 deals with preliminary considerations. A primary issue is to consider a congregational archive: what are the essential historical features to consider. Next is how to recruit a building committee and what its functions will be. This is followed by considerations of budgets and fundraising, deciding about relocation, and the expectations of an architect. Appendices include checklists, organization and flow charts, sample floor plans and a bibliography. Rejoice In Your Handiwork Part 2 gets at issues of function and design. Included are an analysis of spirituality and identity, and the physical environment. This is followed by practical details of sanctuary space, creating intimacy, acoustics, developmental stages, attention to detail, an accessibility audit, and consideration of the importance of sustainability. These very usable documents are available in PDF formats and easily downloadable online without cost.