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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

Taming the Bureaucracy Beast

by Susan Beaumont

The church needs innovation, experimentation and risk taking. The church has bureaucracy; inactivity in the name of good order and process. Senseless bureaucracy keeps us endlessly mired in reporting, approval seeking and communication. We end up with repetitive meetings, multiple levels of approval, over-reliance on procedure, and postponed decision making until everyone is informed and happy. What would it take to free ourselves from all of this and just get things done?

Tending the Soul of the Institution

by Susan Beaumont
The human brain favors binary thinking. We are naturally drawn to the two-sidedness of the world, the fact that everything has an opposite, a polar complement. Leaders of faith-based institutions tend the spiritual needs of our organization with the soft skills of care, prayer and discipleship. Then we turn the soft skills off and guide the organizational side of the church with the hard skills of supervision, governance, facilities and financial management. Two fundamentally different kinds of work. Two very different skill sets. Right? Wrong!

Blame It on Polity

by Susan Beaumont

Leaders utter a predictable battle cry when faced with possible organizational changes.  “Our polity won’t allow us to do that!” They may want to consider changes that will make their organization more nimble, flexible and efficient, but they suspect that polity (denominational governance systems) will stand in the way.

The Problem with Meetings

by Susan Beaumont
The problem with meetings in congregation is that they focus on building and sharing knowledge. What if we focused on cultivating collective wisdom instead?
Think about the agenda in your typical church meeting. Staff meetings, board meetings, and committee meetings all incorporate the same elements. I tell you what I know, you tell me what you know, we consult with outside sources that know, and then based on our shared knowledge we wrestle our way toward decision making. If we can’t all agree, then majority rules. And most of this happens in the form of sharing and receiving reports, making motions, and approving actions. Boring, not very creative, and certainly not soulful!

Do I Have Enough Influence?

by Susan Beaumont
You are clear about the changes needed in your congregation, and you are confident in your ability to execute the change. You are not certain that you have the influence needed to overcome change resistance. This is the fundamental dilemma of every leader, especially those new to an organization.read more…

Working around Incompetence on the Team

by Susan Beaumont
We aspire to build staff teams of competent, motivated individuals who work in dogged pursuit of a clearly articulated vision. What most of us have are teams with some outstanding staff and some not so outstanding staff, working side by side towards a vision that seems clear, on some days.