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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

Why Congregations Sometimes Change

photo by Dan Hotchkiss

Organizations are famous for resisting change. Despite the best efforts of their leaders, who often want change more than anybody else, organizations, including congregations, reproduce this week what they did last week, this month what they did last month, and this year what they did the year before. That’s the rule. However, once in a great while an organization decides to do something truly different—and then actually does so.

Which raises two important questions: Why do organizations—or more generally, systems—resist change so strongly? And why do they sometimes change anyway?

Imagining a New Model for the Church

Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

When we church people talk about “what it means to be “the church,”  we use lots of grand Scriptural and theological language. But our actual model for the church—both our image of what church is supposed to be and the way we organize to make it happen—tends to be based on more commonplace ideas. Perhaps it’s time to imagine a new model for the church.

Christian Nationalism and Congregations

US Flag with sunlight showing through it in the shape of a cross

Christian Nationalism is a significant force in American civic life, but “Christianity” and “Christian Nationalism” are two very different species. The former is a religious movement and the latter a political one. Yet because many (mostly white) Christians have imbibed the tenets of Christian Nationalism, Christian leaders must now contend with its presence. We will consider the phenomenon of Christian Nationalism and how to respond to its adherents in our congregations.

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.