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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

Being Clergy Today, Part 2: The Opportunities

In my fifty years of ministry, I have never seen so many opportunities for the church and clergy as I see today. Indeed, I am jealous of those of you who have the opportunity to pastor in the current environment. My belief in the opportunities in no way discounts or downplays the huge challenges to ministry today. I detailed some of those challenges in Part 1 of this two-part piece. But in this time of instability, the church is ready for innovation.

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Learning from Instagram

Photo by NASA

Every one of us has a unique identity. As James Taylor said in an Instagram post about Jimmy Buffett’s death, “We all … invent, assemble, inherit, or fall into our inner identity.” One important source of identity is our associations—the social groups we join, including congregations. It’s important to appreciate new forms of association that are emerging in our time.

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Is “Contemporary Worship” Contemporary?

When I urge congregations to develop strategies to engage Millennial and Gen Z generations, someone inevitably says, “Maybe we should start a contemporary worship service to attract them.” The problem is: nothing in my research or experience leads to the conclusion that contemporary worship will attract younger generations. Indeed, is what we call contemporary worship even contemporary?

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Reaching the Next Generation

Call me overly optimistic or even naïve—but I think it is still possible for congregations to reach the next generation successfully. One key skill will be to listen to our mission field—the people and communities around us—better and more deeply than we’ve listened in the past.

Asking Millennials to Give

“Boomers at our church don’t understand how we give.” I hear this from young people around the country. In a striking example of how generations can see things in opposite ways, boomers say, “Millennials don’t know how to give the way we do.” Let’s unpack these conflicting perceptions of millennial financial support for the congregations where they worship.

A Recipe for Vitality

It is hard for a congregation to revitalize, but when leaders have the courage to make major changes and live deeply into the mission, churches can rebuild. I know this, because it’s happening now in many places.

Why “Spiritual but not Religious” is a Good Thing!

As a baby boomer, I am disappointed by church members in my generation who, all too frequently, dismiss millennials and others who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” It is a theme I hear constantly in my consulting practice. “Why focus on them when they have already told us they are spiritual but not religious?” or “They have no desire to join or even attend a congregation because they are spiritual but not religious” are comments I hear every single time I work with a congregation.