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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

How to “Just Try a Few Things”: Lean Experimentation

Mature congregations (the ones with parlors, pipe organs, and portrait galleries of past pastors) usually want to grow, and they program for growth by doing some version of the following: As you probably already know, this process takes a while, and a good idea sometimes dies because people run out of energy or run into …

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Just Try a Few Things

by Sarai Rice
These are tough times for mature congregations. You know the ones I mean– congregations with parlors and organs and portrait galleries of past ministers (and carpets that can’t be spilled on and furniture that can’t be moved and relics that can’t be thrown away). Most of our congregations are like this, even though by now most Christians go to some other kind of congregation or just don’t go.

Noticing – Unhurried, Unafraid Curiosity

by Sarai Rice
As I remember it, the first time I visited Ed in the nursing home, his bed included some kind of sling apparatus that helped the staff get him up and out of bed. I don’t think I ever saw it used, but it was certainly clear that he didn’t get out of bed often. He also didn’t respond very much when I talked with him, even though the family had assured me that he was still quite mentally sharp.

“I Promise…”

by Sarai Rice
“I promise that no one will lose their job unless they really mess up.”
I’ve heard these words, or something like them, twice in the last ten days—once from the chair of a large congregation’s personnel committee and again from the executive director of a social services non-profit created through the merger of two other organizations.
These words scare me.

Can Small Congregations Change?

J. Chein Church Bank
Ed Berg – Wikimedia

by Sarai Rice

No question is more vexing to me than this one, because I see so many small congregations struggling with the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest. It’s a relevant question, too, for students of congregational life, given that the median size of a congregation in this country is currently 75, only 11% of Christians worship in such congregations, and most are experiencing decline. Lots of seminars and workshops have been spawned on the subject, with the same implicit subtext–can small churches change in order to grow?

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Rules for the Too-Busy

“While I understand the reasons for believing the pastor needs to be the primary evaluator of staff, my personal concern comes from my sense of overwhelm-ment I already experience sometimes with this work.  There is not enough time to do all that needs to be done…”

Bee eye from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Jack Wolf, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

This is the comment of a student in a webinar I’m leading on aspects of small church ministry.

And I get it.  I, too, feel as if I don’t have enough time to do all that needs to be done.  I work days, nights, and weekends, and it’s still not enough.  I always feel as if I’m letting people down.

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