Congregational Consulting Group logo

The Congregational Consulting Group, organized in 2014 by former consultants of the Alban Institute, is a network of independent consultants. We publish PERSPECTIVES for Congregational Leaders—thoughts on topics of interest to leaders of congregations and other purpose-driven organizations. —  Dan Hotchkiss, editor

Our Latest Perspectives

Is Anyone Making Decisions?

Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Too many congregations, presbyteries, dioceses, conferences, etc. spend enormous amounts of energy studying, debating, amending, revising, discussing, pondering decisions rather than making decisions. It is one of the reasons the millennials and Gen Zers don’t want to get involved in the church: They want to change the world, not discuss it to death. We need to demand that leaders make decisions.

Is the Former Mainline Finally Seeing Its Hook Echo?

NEXRAD Rradar of an EF2 Tornado

If you’re from the Midwest as I am, you can probably recognize a “hook echo” on the TV weather—a hook shape visible on radar in the lower portion of a storm. A hook echo is a classic sign that a tornado is imminent. It is often confirmed by spotters on the ground. Or by you, standing on your front porch—it’s a Midwest thing!

A New Openness to Change

Door opening to outside
valérie faiola on Unsplash

The congregations where I work as a consultant show a surprising, almost shocking openness to change. Over most of my fourteen years as a consultant, I’ve seen many Boomers with their heels dug in against change in congregations where they worship. I see promise in the possibility that we might try new things, some of which might work!

Making Your Core Values Matter

Apple Core by dixieroadrash CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 D

Core values are especially important when identity is shifting and resources are dwindling. At such times, when decisions must be made about what to say yes to and what to stop doing, core value statements are a critical discernment tool. However, core values won’t help you if they aren’t unique, mutually embraced, and authentic to the community, or if you don’t use them regularly.

Many congregations write a core value statement as part of a planning process along with a mission and vision statement, plaster them all on a wall someplace, and promptly forget them. Is a core values statement worth doing? Yes—but only if you create it well and use it effectively.

What About the Nones?

Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

The Nones are in the news and have been for a while. “Nones” are people who, when pollsters ask for their religion, say “None.” Nones used to be a tiny group, but now None is among the top three answers, alongside Roman Catholic and Evangelical Protestant. The rise of Nones reflect a cultural shift that can feel threatening, especially to Mainline Protestants, whose numbers have declined as Nones’ have risen. But for leaders who can listen sympathetically and respond flexibly, Nones may offer opportunities as well as threats.

Clergy Transitions

cocoon and butterfly
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

’Tis the season for clergy transitions in many of our congregations. I am one of those clergy who happens to be transitioning. After a decade as a denominational executive, I am heading back, full-time to consulting, coaching, trainings, and psychotherapy. I am ready and excited!

While I was ready and excited, I forgot that major transitions are hard. Once I made and communicated my decision, the machinery of major life transitions rolled into motion, and I found myself on an intense roller-coaster ride with some unexpected dips as well as highs.