Congregational Consulting Group logo

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

What to Say When Your Side Loses

by Dan Hotchkiss
“The ayes have it.” Curt put down his hand and looked across the table at Priscilla, who had also voted “no.” Priscilla smiled, shrugged, and joined the chatter about how to ask the membership to ratify the board’s decision. Curt was not smiling. By five to two, the board had voted to tear down the ladies’ parlor to make room for a new classroom wing. Luckily, the congregation also needed to approve the project. Curt was thinking about how to make his arguments again. 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

You Disappointed Me

by Susan Beaumont

A volunteer agrees to complete a task but fails to deliver, or delivers a less than satisfactory outcome. A leader violates an established behavioral standard. What do you do? How do you redeem the situation?

Disappointment is inevitable when people are involved in ministry, but disappointment doesn’t have to be the final word. Delivering an effective feedback message in the face of disappointment can turn the situation around and introduce accountability into the volunteer relationship.

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.

The Rabbis

by Dan Hotchkiss
The job was to facilitate what may have been the most diverse and ecumenical gathering of rabbis ever. For this three-day rabbinical retreat, I had prepared three days’ worth of material. But I became an awed spectator of a learned debate, with lasting admiration for the willingness of fourteen rabbis to struggle with their differences in the name of a shared purpose.