September 7, 2016

Faith and Money

When I was young, I went to worship with my parents and six siblings. My stepfather prepared our offering envelopes the evening before worship. He placed a dollar in each envelope. At the beginning of worship, he passed the envelopes to each of us. When I received my envelope, I experienced a weekly moment of…

August 25, 2016

Your Congregation is Not in Decline

In October 2012, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that, based on new data, 19.5% of Americans register no religious affiliation. This is an almost five percent increase over the last five years. Congregations are struggling, in part, because the religious lives of individuals in the United States are changing, according to…

July 28, 2016

In Praise of Slow

Congregations learn well when they slow things down. Creating a sense of urgency makes sense when striving to get ahead in a capitalistic economy, but it isn’t always helpful for congregational discernment. Certainly, there are some things that are urgent; emergency hospital calls, fixing a roof that is dangerous. However, learning to do new things…

July 12, 2016

The Special Meaning of the Word “Practice”

Congregational life includes beliefs. Some congregations ask folks to believe certain things in order to be members. Your congregation may welcome questions about certain beliefs. Your congregation may host learning experiences that help you go deeper into theology. Yes, congregational life includes beliefs. Congregations often invite us to deeper thinking, not just about beliefs but…

June 21, 2016

Appreciative Inquiry

What does marriage have in common with congregational life? There is one thing in particular: both flourish when the ratio of positive validation to negative criticism is five to one in favor of the positive. The magic ratio Dr. John Gottman is a therapist who works with married couples. He has researched what he calls…

May 4, 2016

The Challenge of Partnering

Congregational partnerships can be challenging. If a congregation needs help with something beyond its grasp, its leaders are often advised to join efforts with another congregation or another group. This is common when exploring community ministry. Partnering comes to mind often when mergers are considered. Why it’s challenging The advice to partner can be counterproductive…

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