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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

After the Pandemic: A Hybrid World

Fifty-eight percent of professional workers say they are “more productive when working virtually, even if there are distractions such as a spouse and children at home.” This finding from a survey by the global consulting firm Korn Ferry is one of many indications that for some American workers, productivity has improved. How about your congregational staff? Has their productivity increased, decreased, or stayed the same since February 2020?

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Will There Ever Be a Non-Virtual Meeting Again?

Empty conference room
Photo by Builee Com on Unsplash

Once the COVID-19 crisis is behind us, I am convinced that more will remain the same than change in congregational life. People have gathered to worship, study, and support each other for centuries in the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and other religious traditions. Congregations have continued their core practices through pandemics, depressions, and wars. After each time of travail, more stayed the same than changed. History tells us to be careful when predicting cosmic change for congregations, even with something as huge as COVID.

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Meetings With an Afterlife

An organization director I once worked with was asked, “What do you do?” He replied, “I attend meetings.” Sadly, this was true. The “meetings and meetings-about-meetings” culture was pervasive in that director’s organization. Once while sitting in a meeting with people flown in from around the country, I started estimating the travel and staff time expenses for the people sitting around the conference table. I asked myself, “Are the results of this meeting worth the thousands of dollars it took to gather for it?” I didn’t have to wait until the end of the meeting to come to my conclusion: No.

Rules for Not Being a Jerk

Most congregations have at least one jerk. You know who I mean—the one who takes up far more than one person’s share of time and energy and leaves the group feeling discouraged, disempowered, and exhausted. How can you be sure it isn’t you?

Four Questions to Ask before Every Meeting

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? …

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Want a Healthier Congregation? Start with Better Meetings

Nearly every congregation has a hushed story about one. That “awful meeting” in which participants said terrible things, relationships were shattered, and permanent scars resulted. In their 1999 study of “Breakaway Organizations,” Dyck and Stark found that a “polarizing event” (usually a painful congregational meeting) was almost always the precipitating factor for a congregational schism and the departure of members.