PERSPECTIVES for Congregational Leaders

  • What Really Matters When It Comes to Raising Money
    As fundraising fashions come and go, which elements are vital and which can be varied or skipped from year to year? Congregations have successfully flouted techniques once thought essential—in-home canvassing, a published budget, the kickoff dinner, even the hallowed pledge card. Replacement approaches rise and fall: Consecration Sunday, crowdfunding, targeted giving. Has human nature changed so much, or do fundamental principles apply?
  • Rolled up mat“Pick Up Your Mat and Walk” — Moving Beyond Process Paralysis
    When it comes to making major decisions, we often encourage congregational leaders to slow down, plan a careful process, and follow it carefully. But there are times when process paralyzes, and what is most needed is a clear and timely decision.
  • FlowerStop Worrying About Worship Attendance — Thrive Instead!
    For a long time, clergy have taken credit when attendance rose and felt guilty when it fell. Most people assume that the best measure of a congregation’s spiritual vitality is the headcount at weekly worship. But some congregations have begun to think beyond that metric and focus more broadly about how their ministry transforms lives. As a result, they’re finding new ways to think about worship, vitality and effectiveness.
  • “Recalculating” Ministry at Mid-Career
    When we are attentive, mid-career can be a time for us to deepen the “conversation with the elements” of ministry.
  • Think “They” Need to Change? Start With Yourself!
    Those of us who are older cannot expect the church to stay the same to accommodate our preferences. Every church needs to change if it is to continue to be faithful, and the only way for that to happen is if each of us agrees to start with ourselves.
  • SensesThe Experience of Church
    Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee, believes the key to the company’s success is not the coffee but “the Starbucks experience.” A visit to Starbucks is a sensory event filled with smells, sights, and sounds—from the aroma of fresh ground beans to the greetings from the staff, from the names of drinks and sizes of drinks to the fast, free Wi-Fi. Customers expect good coffee, but without the full Starbucks experience, coffee is just coffee.
  • What Kind of Planning Should We Do?
    by Dan Hotchkiss It is not always easy to say what kind of planning a congregation needs to do at a specific moment. Nonetheless, dogmas abound. Some people think every congregation has to do a big, ginormous long-range, planning process every five […]
  • Out of controlWhen a Leader Spins Out of Control
    When a congregation's leader starts to exhibit strange and harmful behavior, the experience can be frightening and divisive. To reduce the harm such a spinout can do to the congregation long-term health, others must face up to the situation promptly and take firm steps.
  • voiceWill Organized Religion Find Its Political Voice?
    Congregations don’t take sides in elections, but they can never be neutral about moral issues. Especially in times of sharp disagreement, clergy and lay leaders face a hard dilemma: How can we speak politically with a religious voice?
  • How to Avoid Fighting About Stupid Things
    by Sarai Rice Anxious people fight about stupid things. I learned this years ago, mostly from congregations. But I was reminded of it recently by a close encounter with party politics during the most recent election cycle, so I thought I would share […]

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