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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

“I Promise…”

by Sarai Rice
“I promise that no one will lose their job unless they really mess up.”
I’ve heard these words, or something like them, twice in the last ten days—once from the chair of a large congregation’s personnel committee and again from the executive director of a social services non-profit created through the merger of two other organizations.
These words scare me.

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

by Susan Beaumont

On airplanes, adults are told to put their masks on before helping others so they will be fully conscious. In churches, adults need to attend to their own spiritual consciousness before they can ably assist children and youth with faith formation.

Unfortunately, the way we structure our staff teams reinforces semi-conscious adult faith formation. We follow time-honored traditions of staffing faith formation in children and youth first. Then we staff the needs of the organization. We give left-over oxygen to our adults. Can we really “train up a child in the way he should go,” when the quality of adult faith formation is so far behind the quality of our children and youth programs? read more

Succeeding in a Paid Position

by Dan Hotchkiss

Each year, thousands of musicians, educators, clergy, office workers, and custodians start new jobs in congregations. If all goes well, the new staff member will eventually become an energetic, well-respected, and productive member of the team. The staff member helps to make this happen, but so do the governing board, the head of staff, and other supervisors. I will share some thoughts first for the top leadership, then for the new staff member directly.

What Makes for a Strong Partnership?

by Dan Hotchkiss
Nothing is more important to a congregation’s dynamism than strong partnership between the clergy leader and the governing board.

By a strong partnership, I don’t mean one in which the partners are necessarily comfortable or happy all the time. A strong partnership is one that produces results in keeping with the congregation’s mission. To accomplish that, the partners need to agree about the mission and their plan for achieving it. They need to know what to expect of one another, so that over time they can build trust. They need to communicate frankly about what is going well and what needs fixing. And they need a way to make decisions that allows the work to move ahead.

How to Give Away Your Power

by Dan Hotchkiss
It’s relatively easy to find people willing to do tasks. It’s hard to cultivate real leaders—people to take charge of projects and gather others to get something done. As one pastor put it, “We have willing workers, but I can’t seem to create leaders. I can delegate work, but I don’t know how to delegate authority.” To delegate effectively, you need to balance three things: authority, guidance, and accountability. This is true for delegating tasks, and truer still for delegating leadership. Until we learn to bring people to full competence in little things, we can’t lead them to full competence in bigger things. Learning to delegate tasks completely is a necessary step toward readiness to delegate power.