The Joy (and Challenge) of Community

It’s very easy in our American culture to leave a church. No matter how hard pastors and lay leaders work to keep folks focused on mission instead of individual preferences, church attendance is often a consumer-driven phenomenon. If there is any kind of conflict brewing in a congregation the temptations to flee grow exponentially. It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “That church was no longer meeting my needs.”

What I No Longer Believe about Congregations

Susan Nienaber
For most of my consulting practice, I “held certain truths to be self-evident.” I used to believe, for instance, that many congregations had declined so far they could not possibly revitalize—but I have changed my mind.

Creating a New Image for Our Congregations

I confess that I’m not much of a professional sports fan. However, I do watch the Super Bowl mainly to socialize with friends and to watch the commercials and the halftime show. Did you notice how different the commercials were this year? Many of them featured cute animals, positive self-esteem, values, relationships and sensitive dads. Given all of the scandals in the NFL this past year I wondered if we were seeing the softer side of the NFL. It was astonishing. Of course, I began to wonder about congregations. (read more)

Why All God’s Children Need to Plant New Spiritual Communities

by Susan Nienaber
One of the greatest joys of my new role as District Superintendent (and part-time congregational consultant) is that I am learning so many new and exciting things. In recent years my denomination has placed a strong emphasis on starting new churches. Clearly, congregations that are growing in vitality are the ones who best engage their immediate communities and this is the essence of what a new church start is all about. read more