by Dan Hotchkiss
Nothing is more important to a congregation’s dynamism than strong partnership between the clergy leader and the governing board.
By a strong partnership, I don’t mean one in which the partners are necessarily comfortable or happy all the time. A strong partnership is one that produces results in keeping with the congregation’s mission. To accomplish that, the partners need to agree about the mission and their plan for achieving it. They need to know what to expect of one another, so that over time they can build trust. They need to communicate frankly about what is going well and what needs fixing. And they need a way to make decisions that allows the work to move ahead.
by Dan Hotchkiss
by Sarai Schnucker Rice
Congregational life has very few reliable metrics, and when we think we’ve found one, we all seize upon it, grateful for some measure of certainty in an otherwise murky world.
For example, it seems as if we’ve been talking forever about family, pastor, and program. Even without any additional information, you’ve probably already recognized that these are categories of congregational size based on worship attendance. Family-sized congregations see an average of 1-50 in church, pastor-sized congregations see 50-150, and program-sized congregations see 150-250. Family-sized congregations are usually gathered around a matriarch, pastor-sized congregations around a pastor, and program-sized around a pastor plus a few very part-time staff plus a host of volunteers, all of whom are usually exhausted.
by John Wimberly
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.
by Susan Beaumont
Board leaders long for meaningful meetings. Instead, many participate in mind-numbing meetings that repetitively chase topics, with little forward momentum. Agendas are rigidly structured around the receipt of reports, with little work that actually impacts the future of the congregation. What would it take to foster more fruitful board conversations?
by David Brubaker
How can congregational leaders make needed changes without incurring wrenching conflict? In addition to working as part of a Team, successful change leaders set a Tone of invitation and listening, take Time to understand the system and to earn the right to propose change, and nest their congregation’s story in Theology–their larger sacred story.
by Susan Nienaber
I sat down recently with two new friends, Joelle Anderson and Vanessa Williams, recent graduates of Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. As an older, mainline Protestant clergywoman speaking with two much younger women-one African-American and the other Euro-American, both graduating from an evangelical seminary-I was curious about the worldview of two young women in their 20s. I wanted to hear their concerns about church and culture and their views on controversial topics like the ordination and marriage of GLBTQ persons.
by Dan Hotchkiss
It’s relatively easy to find people willing to do tasks. It’s hard to cultivate real leaders—people to take charge of projects and gather others to get something done. As one pastor put it, “We have willing workers, but I can’t seem to create leaders. I can delegate work, but I don’t know how to delegate authority.” To delegate effectively, you need to balance three things: authority, guidance, and accountability. This is true for delegating tasks, and truer still for delegating leadership. Until we learn to bring people to full competence in little things, we can’t lead them to full competence in bigger things. Learning to delegate tasks completely is a necessary step toward readiness to delegate power.