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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

Is the Former Mainline Finally Seeing Its Hook Echo?

NEXRAD Rradar of an EF2 Tornado

If you’re from the Midwest as I am, you can probably recognize a “hook echo” on the TV weather—a hook shape visible on radar in the lower portion of a storm. A hook echo is a classic sign that a tornado is imminent. It is often confirmed by spotters on the ground. Or by you, standing on your front porch—it’s a Midwest thing!

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Keep Showing Up

Most of my congregations—both my clients and the small, rural churches for whom I preach—worry that their beloved church will not survive. But I keep working with them because, even as they age and their numbers dwindle, they surprise me with their capacity to adapt and innovate. In spite of everything, God’s church keeps showing up.  

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Life after Death for Congregations

For perhaps the first time in American history, more congregations are disappearing every year than are being born. But even in decline, some are finding new ways to serve people and communities.

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Lemons or Lemurs: Telling a New Story of Your Church

photo by Sarai Rice

Most of us who do church work are familiar with the notion of the congregational lifecycle. It’s a bell-shaped curve: starting at the left with birth, congregations move through formation to reach peak stability. Then they start to move back down toward decline and ultimately death—unless we do something to change the curve.

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Urgency Works, but Is It the Only Driver of Change?

Ambulance rushing
Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

It is too soon to create a definitive list of all the things we will have learned from this pandemic, but I’m clear about one thing—John Kotter was right that urgency does drive change. Under pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic and outrage over police violence against black people, congregations have made changes I thought I would never see. Will we be able to continue innovating when extreme urgency no longer forces us to do so?

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Are You Shrink-Smart?

“Shrink-Smart” communities have something to teach congregations about how to thrive where population is declining.