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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

High Tech and High Touch

As congregations start to emerge from the pandemic, a top priority is to re-establish a sense of belonging and community.

A friend of mine in Colorado says his current challenge is to reestablish “high touch” ministry. For the past two years, Hal and his staff have focused on “high tech.” They had to master technologies and related managerial strategies they never had imagined needing: livestreaming, Zoom meetings, virtually maintaining a sense of team in a staff, etc. Within the constraints of the pandemic, they struggled to remain in touch and engaged with their members. It was challenging at best. They kept up with pastoral care, but other ways of staying in touch with members often were not possible.

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Church Was Already Hard

top of a church
Photo by Akira Hojo on Unsplash

Being a part of the church does not feel safe right now. For many clergy and lay leaders, it may feel like the hardest work we’ll ever do.

Church was already hard before the pandemic because the church we’ve known—the church many of us graduated from seminary thinking we knew how to serve—was already disappearing. We used to think we knew what our job was, but the things we know how to do aren’t working anymore, and no one yet knows what will work in the future. We’re in a constant state of chaos, and no matter what we do, someone will always get upset.

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When to Let Go

Scrabble tiles say "Let it Go"
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Every busy person knows that if we want to add something new to our schedule, we need to let something else go. (You know this, right?) Religious institutions face the same dilemma—unless blessed with unlimited dollars for additional staff, they know that programs and projects need to end in order to start something new. Letting go is hard, though. It disappoints members, who are usually not only fans but donors. How does a church decide when to let go?

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The Secret Sauce of Congregations

Speaking with clergy around the country during the pandemic, I have heard a universal sense of loss over the dramatically diminished number of personal interactions with members, staff, and the community. Pastors, ministers, rabbis, and priests today are suffering—they are relationship experts at a time when it is challenging to put that expertise to work.

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Crisis Fatigue? Metaphors Can Help

Are you tired, exhausted, experiencing grief or even moments of hopelessness and despair? If so you are not alone. You may have hit the six-month wall and are experiencing crisis fatigue. I feel it, too. My intent is not to write another article about how to care for yourself in this time. The internet is full of these types of articles right now. Instead, I want to offer a simple way to give yourself a break through a simple practice using metaphors.

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Showing Up

Two conversations I have had with clergy recently led me to ponder some of the undercurrents of doing ministry during this pandemic and the upheaval and uncertainty we are now swimming in. I was reminded of how important it can be to show up for each other.

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Ministry in the Time of COVID-19

CDC image

Welcome to the unknown—the one place we are most afraid of.

We all cope with anxiety in our own way—some of us by getting angry, some by withdrawing, and some, apparently, by hoarding toilet paper! Fortunately, some of us, including many of my colleagues in ministry, are coping by moving toward the danger and figuring out new ways to worship and serve in the midst of a pandemic. I am so impressed with the way you imagine new things and learn from each other in these difficult times!

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