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Brian Witwer

Contributor

Brian Witwer is the retired director of the Center for Congregations' northeast office. Brian has specialized training in leadership and group process.

Contributions From Brian Witwer

book
Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making the Church Matter
Written for a Roman Catholic audience, this resource calls for renewal in Roman Catholic congregations while affirming the importance of the Eucharistic center of the faith.
book
Tools for Rebuilding: 75 Really, Really Practical Ways to Make Your Parish Better
This easy-to-read resource offers tips on how to improve areas of the Roman Catholic Church, ranging from first communions to getting rid of fundraisers.
web resource
Turnaround Churches
This website has a secondary title of "Ideas for Revitalizing Struggling Churches" and foucses on congregational renewal.
web resource
Renewing Our Church
This web resource offers an engaging video presentation about how an established but faltering congregation understands and celebrates its congregational renewal.
article
Revitalizing African-American Congregations for the Post-Civil Rights Generation
This article argues that the decline of the African American church arises from the assumptions of the kind of evangelism employed during the Civil Rights Era.
book
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.
web resource
Ministry Matters
This website is a general purpose site containing dozens of articles and blogs on information such as preaching, teaching, worship, reaching, and leadership.
book
Church Mergers
This resource offers 30 questions congregations should consider before undergoing a merger, including logistics such as the commute for congregates, to broader topics like clergy strengths and weaknesses.
book
There's Hope for Your Church: First Steps to Restoring Health and Growth
This resource uses hope as the key component to a healthy renewal of the church, and offers a process congregations can follow towards rebirth.
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Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be.
This resource encourages churches to "make the change that changes everything," focusing on the re-emphasis on the experience of the divine in the personal lives of participants and in the church.
web resource
Kol Aleph
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.
book
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.
book
Church Worth Getting Up For
This book advocates for the practice of radical hospitality and focusing the church's mission towards disciple-making in order to draw people back to church.
organization
Greater Orlando Baptist Association
This organization hosts an annual Renovate Conference as well as many online resources focused on church renewal.
book
Choosing Change: How to Motivate Churches to Face the Future
This book will help congregational leaders move their churches towards change through practicing motivational theory and helping congregates accept change.
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Church Transfusion: Changing Your Church Organically From the Inside Out
This resource centers on the role of leadership and how church leaders motivated by vital faith and the ethic of love can create positive change.
organization
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.
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Taking Your Church to the Next Level: What Got You Here Won't Get You There
This guide equips congregations to move confidently through age and growth cycles, addressing leadership styles, management issues, and communication strategies that must be altered after each change.
book
Religious Giving: For Love of God
This series of essays written from a variety of faith traditions explores the relationship between religion and giving.
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Rambam's Ladder: A Meditation on Generosity and Why It is Necessary to Give
Written from a Jewish perspective, this e-book reflects on the work of twelfth-century scholar Rabam and his ladder of generosity.
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Preparing to Build: Practical Tips and Experienced Advice to Prepare Your Church for a Building Program
This comprehensive book takes readers through the complete building process from analysis to land acquisition to working with architects.
organization
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.
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Living Stones Associates
This consulting firm offers a wide range of services for congregations related to facility planning, church health analysis, church conflict, and urban ministry.
periodical
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.
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God in Her Midst: Preaching Healing to Wounded Women
Targeted towards African American and other ethnic congregations, this resource discusses how to reach women who have been hurt because of gender.
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Fundraising and the Next Generation: Tools for Engaging the Next Generation of Philanthropists
Written by a fundraising consultant, this book is targeted for congregations trying to reach funders under 40 years of age, and provides insight on social media and the power of grants.
organization
Fuller Youth Institute
This innovative branch of Fuller Theological Seminary provides research-based books, curricula, and articles for thriving youth ministry.
web resource
Church Hospitality Audit
The Hospitality Audit is a free web resource designed by Chris Walker, Presbyterian pastor and church evangelism coach, which helps congregations take a serious look at the many aspects of how a visitor or outsider might experience a congregation.
periodical
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.
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Deacons in Today's Black Baptist Church
This resource examines the role of deacon in the Black church, beginning with a discussion of the Biblical understanding of the role and strategies for training and supporting deacons.
book
Creative Ideas for Children's Worship: Based on the Sunday Gospels Years A, B, C.
Based on the Sunday Gospels in the Revised Common Lectionary, this series of books and CDs provide an overview of children's ministry and its place in the life of the church.
book
Church Planting in the African American Community
This resource brings unique insights into the difficult process of successful church planting, focusing specifically on differences between African American church planters and church planting in general.
book
Church Growth from an African American Perspective
Written from an African American perspective, this book analyzes the ingredients for growth, providing congregations with the tools to build a foundation on biblical preaching, holy living, and sound doctrine.
organization
The Stained Glass Association of America
This organization helps congregations learn about stained glass installation and find local stained glass artisans for hire.
book
Postmodern Youth Ministry: Exploring Cultural Shift, Creating Holistic Connections, Cultivating Authentic Community
This resource explores the shift from modernity to postmodernity, addressing how congregations can minister to youth and apply scripture to a postmodern context.
organization
Partners for Sacred Places
This organization assists congregations in making the best stewardship use of religious facilities, particularly those of historic value or in urban settings.
book
From Jay-Z to Jesus: Reaching and Teaching Young Adults in the Black Church
This practical resource offers a comprehensive view of ministry to black young adults, examining why a new approach to young adult ministry is needed.
book
Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide
This resource captures the impact congregations make when they use a more holistic and organic approach to children's and youth ministry.
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The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work
Part of the Thin Book Series, this resource present a simple, yet careful approach to building and keeping trust, which will result in congregational growth.
book
The Soul of the Congregation: An Invitation to Congregational Reflection
This resource calls on readers to analyze the soul of their congregation --- what makes up their history, values, and traditions --- to begin a process of discernment.
book
Leadership and Listening: Spiritual Foundations for Church Governance
This concise book presents a research-based analysis of the relationship between the processes of congregational leadership and spiritual discernment, giving congregations the tools to reflect on where God is leading them.
book
To Walk in Integrity: Spiritual Leadership in Times of Crisis
This resource helps readers examine daily habits and choices to equip them with the necessary mindset to lead with integrity during times of crisis.
book
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.
book
Formational Children's Ministry: Shaping Children Using Story, Ritual, and Relationship
This resource presents a new model for how churches can equip children through faith formation.
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Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Written by the United Methodist Bishop of Missouri, this book outlines five congregational practices of an effective congregation, detailing the importance of each and providing evaluation tools to measure your own congregation's vitality.
book
Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith Formation
This resource presents diverse ways to look at the future of faith formation, highlighting strategies for bringing faith to life.
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Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling
This resource urgest Christians to stop engaging in a misguided "culture war," and instead, calls upon readers to become culture makers.
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You are Invited on a 40 Day Spiritual Journey to a More Generous Life
Designed as a 40-day study, this book presents a comprehensive analysis of giving as an essential Christian practice.
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Will Our Children Have Faith?
This resource provides an insightful and useful critique of Christian education, arguing that true Christian education involves a sustained effort to transmit knowledge, attitudes, values, or sensibilities.
book
The Way of Discernment, Participant's Guide (Companions in Christ)
This study guide engages small groups in a 10-week consideration of discernment, helping congregational groups determine where the spirit of Christ might lead them.
book
The Way of Discernment, Leaders Guide (Companions in Christ)
This leader's guide goes hand-in-hand with "Way of Discernment, Participant Guide." It equips leaders to explore the process of discernment as a way to seek direction in mission discovery.
book
The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Success and Fulfillment
Based off interviews with several leaders of various fields, this book shows the impact leaders can make by examining the lives of their employees, the community, and environment they work in.
book
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.
organization
Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
This accrediting agency upholds members to high standards of financial accountability, such as financial transparency, responsible board governance, integrity in fundraising, and the proper use of charitable resources.
book
The Unbroken Circle: A Toolkit for Congregations Around Illness, End of Life, and Grief
This toolkit envisions how a comprehensive care ministry might work, helping faith communities to be intentional about its care for members and friends.
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To Know As We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey
This resource urges teachers and learners to recapture the spiritual dimension of education, starting by looking at the three sources of knowledge.
book
The Voice of Authority: 10 Communication Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know
A Fortune 500 consultant provides advice on how to communicate responsibly to make others respond with good work and good will.
book
Facilitation Skills for Ministry
This resource combines the knowledge and expertise of the three authors to form a comprehensive guide on facilitation and how it can be implemented in a ministry setting.
book
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.
book
The Power of Asset Mapping: How Your Congregation Can Act on Its Gifts
Divided into three sections, this book will help congregations discover their assets --- whether it be physical, talent or economic --- and prepare leaders for how to utilize such assets.
book
Winning Grants to Strengthen Your Ministry
This thorough and practical book will help congregations write grants, develop relationships with funders, and integrate grant seeking into the life of the congregation.
book
Making a Difference in a Globalized World: Short-term Missions that Work
This book provides research on the success of short-term mission trips and concludes that they can be beneficial for everyone involved if the trip is well planned and creatively led.
organization
National Coalition for the Homeless
This organization does research and provides resources for those who are homeless, and for congregations who are interested in working to end homelessness.
book
Bounty: Ten Ways to Increase Giving in Your Church
This comprehensive guide will help churches create a fundraising climate centered around faith and generosity.
web resource
Megachurches
Hartford Seminary maintains this website as a service to organizations, groups, congregations and individuals who wish to have information about megachurches.
book
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 shift from relief to the spiritual discipline of compassion.
article
The Pastor's Guide to Audio, Video and Lighting
This article addresses common mistakes congregations make when installing audio, video, lighting, and how to avoid them.
organization
Generis
This consulting group assists congregations in developing strategies for finance and fundraising.
article
Gateway to Church for Young Adults
This article highlights the ministry of Charlotte/One, an ecumenically-based ministry in North Carolina that brings together young adults.
book
Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do About It
This resource acts as a guide for congregations struggling with youth ministry, presenting a systemic approach to developing a healthy youth ministry, starting with finding the right minister.
book
What We Love About the Black Church: Can We Get a Witness?
Written by two long-serving white pastors of Black Churches, this resource is both instructive and original in highlighting the ministry and methods of the Black Church, honoring its legacy of preaching and social justice.
book
Inside the Large Congregation
Written by a consultant who deals primarily with large congregations, this book is an overview of large congregation dynamics and details the five basic leadership systems needed in order for a large organization to flourish.
book
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.
organization
Interfaith Power & Light
This organization provides programs and resources to help congregations act on combating climate change and practicing sustainable living.
book
The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry
This guide is an accessible question guide designed for group facilitators looking to change the way people think about change through Appreciative Inquiry.
web resource
Hearing Loop Technology
This webpage provides information about Hearing Loops, which allow hard of hearing individuals equipped with hearing aids and cochlear impants to hear better due to the installation of technology.
organization
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
This organization mobilizes Jewish resources to promote social justice within the United States, including hosting a leadership training program.
book
MissioRelate: Becoming a Church of Missional Small Groups
This resource looks at the future of small group ministry and offers the missional church model as a way for small groups to move forward.
web resource
Missional Church Network
This website, by Brad Brisco and his associates, contains several resources to help congregations engage the missional church model, teaches leadership seminars, contains blogs and articles, engages social media, and consults with congregations directly.
book
Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions About God & Faith
Part of the Sticky Faith curriculum produced by Fuller Youth Institute, this resource provides youth ministry leaders with conversation generators for eight engaging questions.
book
99 Thoughts for Smaller Church Youth Workers: Doing More with Less
This resource offers youth leaders of small churches hope and affirmation.
organization
Center for Congregational Health, Inc.
This organization provides consulting and leadership training in a wide variety of areas, including an interim ministry training and clearing house program.
organization
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
This organization promotes environmental stewardship through learning, action, and advocacy.
book
Practicing Witness: A Missional Vision of Christian Practices
This concise book offers a history and definition of missional theology, focusing on practice and context.
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For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel
This short but engaging book dives into the work of two urban church planters, detailing their experiences in their ministry settings while looking at what worked and what has not.
book
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself
This resource provides a frank analysis of poverty from a social science and community development perspective, offering a biblical perspective on poverty while offering helpful suggestions.
book
Jump Start
This downloadable PDF examines the components of a healthy volunteer culture and provides steps to implement one in your congregation.
book
The Indispensable Youth Pastor: Land, Love, and Lock in Your Youth Ministry Dream Job
Divided into three parts, this resource is filled with realistic advice and timely information for youth ministers and those seeking youth ministry jobs.
organization
Ecumenical Stewardship Center
This organization offers resources and collaborative opportunities to grow stewards for congregations.
book
Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People
This series invites readers to seize the possibilities of embracing a comprehensive missional church perspective, both in their individual lives and in the actions of the congregation.
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Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World
Ideal for congregations working on strategic planning, this book offers 10 tools that will prepare leaders to lead in a dynamic setting and turn challenges into opportunities.
web resource
The Missional Church… Simple
Provided by Jeff Maguire, lead pastor of Mariners Church in Mission Viejo, CA, this web resource offers an informative, straightforward 2-minute video that is a simple introduction to missional church ideas and expectations.
book
Brim: Creative Overflow in Worship Design
This book on worship planning presents resources and exercises to engage the creative process in those who do worship planning.
book
Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood
This book looks towards to Bible to shed light on the Missional church movement, arguing that God is already at work in the community and that congregations should join the work there.
book
Text Messages: Torah Commentary for Teens
This resource invites teens to consider the larger texts of the Torah so that they may find their own stories within its text, offering insight from more than 100 rabbis and commentators.
organization
The Church Multiplication Training Center
This organization provides training programs for existing congregations to refocus their mission on making disciples, and for church planters to learn specific strategies for starting new congregations.
organization
Transform Network
This missional network provides workshops, a national gathering, and online resources focused on social justice issues and urban transformation.
book
Midrash: Reading the Bible with Question Marks
This resource defines and explores the meaning of Midrash --- a method of interpreting scripture by adding an oral traditions to the biblical world so that following generations can think about additional possibilities.
article
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.
article
Managing Church Facility Use
Published as a part of the Church Tax and Law Ministy of Christianity Today, this helpful article is a user-friendly guide for congregations to use in accessing church safety and security policies.
article
Questions to Ask Your Architect
Published by the American Institute of Architects, this article details five categories of questions congregations should consider asking betore hiring an architect.
organization
Congregational Consulting Group
This organization provides guidance on many topics related to congregational finance, operations and management through consulting and online resources.
organization
National Center for Children in Poverty
This organization promotes family-oriented solutions to childhood poverty at the state and national level through state-specific information, advocacy tools, and plans.
article
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?
article
Sharing God's House
This concise article provides a helpful guide for congregations considering sharing space with other congregations or organizations.
organization
Interfaith Coalition on Energy
This organization provides congregations with resources about energy conservation and ways to cut energy costs.
article
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.
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