Should the Leader Advocate for Change?

Clergy often try to change their congregations, and a rule, their efforts meet resistance. It hurts to be seen as a threat by the very people you are trying to serve, but when a leader’s first move is to advocate for change, that’s generally what happens.

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.

It’s Crazy Out There: Practices for Religious Leaders

We live in a “VUCA” world—a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. A recent Harvard Business Review article called VUCA “a catchall for ‘Hey, it’s crazy out there!’” Religious leaders can engage these “crazy” times intentionally by cultivating practices that I’ll describe here. Though there can be no guarantees of success when dealing with volatile change and uncertainty, I offer these practices as a starter list—you’ll add your own.

Clergy Transition and the Power of the Past

For a new ministry to flourish, both clergy and lay leaders need to understand the congregation’s feelings about the predecessor. Every congregation has some history with (or without) clergy. At time of clergy transition, that history influences the selection process and the partnership as it develops.

Celebrating “Accountability Day”

Americans recently celebrated Independence Day, an event associated, in my childhood mind, mainly with fireworks. In recent years, another July 4 ritual has gained popularity: public readings of the Declaration of Independence. I’ve come to appreciate the annual reminder that genuine authority derives from the consent of the governed, and not from the mere assertion of power by those who govern. We Americans have 241 years of conditioning in the importance of independence, but many of us are woefully lacking in our concept of accountability.

When a Leader Spins Out of Control

When a congregation’s leader starts to exhibit strange and harmful behavior, the experience can be frightening and divisive. To reduce the harm such a spinout can do to the congregation long-term health, others must face up to the situation promptly and take firm steps.