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

Innovation: Living into Your Next Potential

paper ball, paper airplane
Matt Ridley on Unsplash

“We need to innovate” may be one of the most overused phrases addressing the future of the Church. We like to dream big dreams, but realistically, what can we accomplish with our limited resources and our members who dislike change? Which innovation efforts will help create and sustain a hope-filled future—and which will prove to be a poor investment of our time and resources?

The future of any congregation is neither completely open nor completely pre-determined. Instead, we face a corridor of potential, constrained by boundaries. A future not yet known but brimming with possibilities is bounded by limitations of the past and present. We only have so many resources and opportunities. It is false to think that nothing new is possible. It is just as false to pretend that everything is possible.

Read more

Craft and Creativity in Ministry

The world has changed—perhaps you’ve heard!—and congregations must adapt in order to thrive in the future. I agree, but want to add that adaptation requires creativity, and the seedbed of creativity is craft—attention to the basics handed down to us through time.

Preaching, teaching, pastoral care, administration—the craft of parish ministry covers a wide gamut. Few of us excel across the board; all of us depend on others to supply what we cannot. The craft of ministry is ancient, though the specifics vary across time, geography, and faith traditions. Craft is a way of doing things rooted in the past—but without craft, how can we tackle future opportunities? To flourish long-term, leaders need to walk the paradox of craft and creativity. 

Read more

Eight Rules for Innovation in Congregations

Innovation is a standard expectation for leaders who want congregations to attract and retain new members or reach out to the community in new ways. But many congregations, having never had to go beyond small programmatic tweaks, don’t know where to start. Based on recent experience with a major innovation at the faith-based nonprofit that I lead, I’d like to offer some suggestions.

Handling the Hum of Bright Ideas

by Dan Hotchkiss

When someone gets a new idea in your congregation, whom do they call? The clergy leader? A board member? The front-line office person—the executive director, secretary, or administrator—often manages the incoming stream of helpful hints, complaints, requests, suggestions, and reform proposals. The flow of bright ideas is a sign of life, part of the background hum of a healthy congregation.