Will They Never Retire?

by John Wimberly

“Will they never retire?” is a question I hear a lot from younger clergy these days who wonder when my generation (the Baby Boomers) will retire. The Center for Retirement Research reports that 40% of men are still working at age 65 today, double the rate of 20% from a decade ago. Gallup recently released data showing that the average retirement age is now five years older than in the early 1990s. Similar trends are happening with women. The reason younger clergy are wondering, even complaining, about the retirement plans (or lack thereof) of their older colleagues is obvious: they want their jobs. (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)

Family or Institution?

by Dan Hotchkiss

A church or synagogue always is two congregations at the same time. One is the formal institution, governed under bylaws by elected officers and ministers and staff. This congregation has procedures, rules of order (whether Roberts or some new alternative), and stated decision-making methods. Each newcomer who joins has the full rights and privileges of membership. If you want to know how this congregation runs, you read its bylaws, policies, and job descriptions.

The other congregation is more like a family. Its leaders are selected for charisma and respect, and remain indefinitely in office. Decisions are made informally, according to unwritten rules. Newcomers are accepted slowly, and until they are accepted have little or no voice in the deliberations of the group, even if they hold high office. Some things are “done” and others are “not done,” and there is no introductory brochure to clue the stranger into the folkways of the tribe. read more

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

by Susan Beaumont

On airplanes, adults are told to put their masks on before helping others so they will be fully conscious. In churches, adults need to attend to their own spiritual consciousness before they can ably assist children and youth with faith formation.

Unfortunately, the way we structure our staff teams reinforces semi-conscious adult faith formation. We follow time-honored traditions of staffing faith formation in children and youth first. Then we staff the needs of the organization. We give left-over oxygen to our adults. Can we really “train up a child in the way he should go,” when the quality of adult faith formation is so far behind the quality of our children and youth programs? read more

“The tree this year is monkeys”

by Sarai Rice

As I write this, we are just hours away from the beginning of what I call “Happy-Thanks-Merry,” that period in the calendar year when secular and religious holidays align to create five golden weeks of charitable giving (and non-charitable spending). It was during this time last year that I heard the single most tantalizing statement I’ve ever heard in a council, session, or board meeting—an elderly woman’s announcement to the group that “the tree this year is monkeys.”

I was sitting with the council, waiting for my opportunity to explain why I hoped this small congregation would contribute to the capital campaign of the non-profit I direct, and even though it wasn’t my turn yet, I had to ask— read more

Rightsizing Teams

by John Wimberly

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. 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