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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
by Dan Hotchkiss If you dread meetings, don’t despair! Four key questions can help almost any meeting to be better focused, more satisfying and productive. You can ask these questions in advance—or you can ask them shortly after the meeting has begun. Here are the four questions: 1. What is the purpose of this meeting? …