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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

Rightsizing Teams

Building on my last post on teams, I want to talk a bit about the size of teams. As I researched my upcoming book on teams, I was surprised at the unanimity of opinion on this topic. Five to seven members is what research reveals to be the most effective number of people on a team.

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Mobilizing for Ministry

Fair or unfair, the younger generations have negative assumptions about the way committees function. Teams, however, are something they understand and embrace. Most Millennials and Gen-Xers have been involved in team sports from an early age. Many workplaces today are organized into teams. The high-tech industry, for example, has made billions of dollars using creative, self-managing teams. So when asked to serve on a team in a congregation, younger people understand what they are agreeing to do. A committee feels a bit foreign to them.

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We Can See Clearly Now

As a consultant, when I first meet with the leadership of a congregation, I ask them a straightforward question: “What is your congregation’s primary purpose, your driving reason for being?” Usually, the response is halting, filled with qualified statements, and includes a laundry list of things the congregation does. The exchange leaves me and the leaders with one clear conclusion: they aren’t sure what their primary purpose is. They have purposes. But not one, clear, driving purpose.

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The Stories We Don’t Tell

One of the things I love about consulting is listening to the way congregations describe themselves. The narratives they spin about themselves are usually filled with a great deal of pride and love—problems they have overcome, faithful work they have done together, loving their favorite pastors, surviving their least-favorite pastors, the list goes on. Since I like to start a consultation by having members tell me what they love about their congregation, the dominant, guiding narrative emerges very quickly.

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It’s Time to Talk about Performance

by John Wimberly
To change the world, our congregations need to be performing at peak efficiency. If we can make “performance” a driving agenda rather than a dirty word, a lot of obstacles to our effectiveness will disappear.

On Your Mark—Get Set—Stop—(and Reflect)—Plan

by John Wimberly
When a congregation is bleeding, the bleeding needs to stop before anyone can step back and think big picture. But a key to discerning God’s will is to stop listening solely to ourselves and the world so that we can be truly open to the new things to which God is calling us. Do our planning processes include an intentional openness to being surprised; to being quiet and listening for God’s will?

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

by John Wimberly
Occasionally, congregations are presented astounding opportunities to grow. One of those opportunities is upon us. The opportunity is called the Millennial Generation. We have 80 million people between the ages of 18-33, 86% of whom say they believe in God, and we are bemoaning the future of our congregations? In Wisconsin, where I grew up, that is called “looking a gift horse in the mouth.” read more…