Valuing our “Agents of Stability”

by David Brubaker
Much of the current literature on congregations focuses on why and how congregations must change. On the ground, we celebrate congregational leaders who are able to “revive a dying church” or “grow a struggling synagogue.” And those of us who work with congregations are often called in to assist in designing or implementing a change process. In a time of dramatic changes in our congregational environments, skilled agents of change (both internal and external) are indeed sorely needed.

Discernment and Decision Making

by David Brubaker
Think about some of the major decisions you’ve made in your life—whom to marry … or not; whether to have children … or not; where to attend university … or not; what congregation to attend … or not; what profession to pursue; and where to retire. From the day we can think independently until the day we stop doing so we constantly make choices and decisions. “Life is the sum of all your choices,” said the French philosopher Albert Camus. (read more)

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.