The Importance of Shared Identity and Purpose

by David Brubaker

Since every congregation occupies a spectrum of beliefs and values, all congregations experience conflict. Most manage their differences with grace and respect, while others—with no greater disagreements—blow apart. Why do differences tear some congregations asunder, while most manage them with relative aplomb? (read more)

The Congregation as Community

by David Brubaker
I love being part of a “church family.” It feels warm and comforting, and I look forward to seeing my spiritual “sisters and brothers” (along with a number of “cousins”) every Sunday morning. But adopting a “community” metaphor will be healthier for most congregations than persisting with a “family” metaphor. When we think of our congregations only as “families,” our greatest desire may be to nurture and protect them. When we think of them primarily as “communities,” our question may become, “how do we release them?” (read more)

Aligning our Congregational Systems

by David Brubaker
I’ve consulted with about 100 congregations and other organizations in the last 27 years, and in the last five years I’ve noted a distinct trend. Congregational and other organizational leaders used to contact me with a vague request for mediation or consulting services because “we have a conflict and we need help to resolve it.” In recent years, however, leaders have been much more likely to specifically request strategic planning or structure review processes—and often both together. I’ve experienced this shift as an encouraging move towards proactive rather than reactive intervention processes in congregations and other organizations. read more

Three Traits of Effective Congregational Leaders

by David Brubaker

Over the 27 years that I’ve consulted with congregations and other organizations, I’ve noticed three consistent traits of effective congregational and organizational leaders—whether lay or ordained. These traits are present with such consistency I’ve come to believe that together they constitute a required set of core characteristics of effective leaders. Fortunately, these traits can be developed by any congregational or organizational leader—as highly effective leaders are made, not born.

Changing the Ending of our Conflict Stories

by David Brubaker

Despite their enormous capacity for transformation, congregations persistently experience internal conflict. But when leaders acknowledge that people fight about things that are important to them, help them to identify their underlying concerns, maintain leadership unity despite differing perspectives, and move towards conflict rather than away from it, they can help the congregations they lead to to thrive in the face of conflict.

Four Ingredients of Successful Congregational Change

by David Brubaker
How can congregational leaders make needed changes without incurring wrenching conflict? In addition to working as part of a Team, successful change leaders set a Tone of invitation and listening, take Time to understand the system and to earn the right to propose change, and nest their congregation’s story in Theology–their larger sacred story.

Why Lone Rangers Always Fail

by David Brubaker
Leading a successful change process in a congregation, even a very traditional one, is possible. But to do so a leader must earn the right to make that change and partner with others to make it happen. Lone ranger leaders who ride into Dodge and transform an entire community exist only in the movies. In the reality of congregational life, we need a patient posse.