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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

Our Latest Perspectives

Changing the Ending of our Conflict Stories

by David Brubaker

Despite their enormous capacity for transformation, congregations persistently experience internal conflict. But when leaders acknowledge that people fight about things that are important to them, help them to identify their underlying concerns, maintain leadership unity despite differing perspectives, and move towards conflict rather than away from it, they can help the congregations they lead to to thrive in the face of conflict.

Succeeding in a Paid Position

by Dan Hotchkiss

Each year, thousands of musicians, educators, clergy, office workers, and custodians start new jobs in congregations. If all goes well, the new staff member will eventually become an energetic, well-respected, and productive member of the team. The staff member helps to make this happen, but so do the governing board, the head of staff, and other supervisors. I will share some thoughts first for the top leadership, then for the new staff member directly.

Supervision Myth Busters

by Susan Beaumont

Pastors generally do not enter ministry with a strong desire to supervise the work of others. For many, supervision is a necessary job, a burden to be tolerated on the way to the good stuff. If you are struggling in your role as supervisor, you may be harboring false assumptions about supervision—myths that get in the way of a healthy supervisory approach.

Examining these myths and replacing them with more truthful assumptions is the first step in developing an effective supervisory style. The act of supervision becomes easier, and a more natural expression of your authentic personality, when you begin with the right assumptions.

How do we practice change?

by Sarai Schnucker Rice
Congregations unavoidably, inescapably, inevitably, unalterably change. Which is really a good thing, of course, or we would still be lighting our sanctuaries with candles and timing our sermons with sundials.

So, given the inevitably of change, how do we make it possible for our congregations to move their furniture around, sing different songs, change staff, and follow God’s ongoing call to them without coming apart in the process? How do we practice change?

What Makes for a Strong Partnership?

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.

Does Size Matter?

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.

The Stories We Don’t Tell

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.