The following are the latest two articles published in the Alban Weekly email newsletter. To read the full articles and search past articles, follow the links.
|Issue 487||November 25, 2013|
Shifts You Should Know About
by Sarai Rice
Question: What are some of the emerging trends that you see in congregations as they adapt to a changing environment?
Answer: This is a question I’m asked frequently, either by curious participants at a workshop or by members of a struggling congregation who want to know if other congregations are struggling with the same thing. As a result, I’ve started compiling a list of what seem to me to be changes that are adding up to a significant re-imagining of what it means to be “church.”
1. A congregation’s identity does not equal its building.
For centuries, the church has acted as if the building “makes” the congregation in the same sense that clothes makes the person, leading to ever bigger and more grandiose statements of our worth. Now, however, some congregations are beginning to see this dependence on buildings as not necessary to the definition of “church.” In my work with congregations, I’ve encountered:
- congregations who move to a different site every few years and are known by their work rather than their street address or their location atop the tallest hill
- congregations who shed their historic, on-the-town-square, public-meeting-space buildings in order to conduct their own worship in much more modest facilities
- congregations who merge and divest themselves of both buildings in order to worship in rented commercial space that calls forth their best liturgical creativity while freeing their financial resources for mission
2. Pastor does not equal a full-time position.
This is nothing new. The church has recognized tent-making ministry literally since its beginnings, and most congregations in this country are too small to support a full-time pastor (although not all are ready to admit it). What’s new is the emergence of pastors who train with the intention of conducting their lives in this way, which frees up congregational dollars for mission and provides these pastors with the opportunity to earn something closer to a living wage…
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|Issue 486||November 18, 2013|
Guidelines for Leading Meetings
by Tom Kirkpatrick
You may share the sentiment captured in Barnett Cock’s remark, “A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.” This somewhat humorous, tongue-in-cheek analogy may have more than a grain of truth for members of many church councils, ministry teams, task forces, committees, and organizations. If you want a good idea to die or a creative action plan to be stillborn, then just give it to a committee, say sarcastic naysayers. Why do people put down, scorn, or speak critically about these pervasive, established, and, at times, effective staples in most churches?
Perhaps negative impressions of committee meetings have less to do with inherent weaknesses or failures of group work per se than they do with dysfunctional group practices and behaviors. Here are eight simple guidelines that can go a long way to help people be more effective in how they lead meetings.
1. How we view ourselves as group leaders matters.
While leadership may emerge naturally, most church groups have a leader. Someone is usually designated to help the group accomplish its task and work as a team. Here’s how I view myself as a group leader: I am a member of the group designated to help the group go where it wants to go to the extent that such help is needed.
2. People enter a group with two primary questions: Why are we here? And how may I participate?
Put clarity of group purpose and member participation at the top of your “to do” list early in group life. Most people want to know why they are meeting, and how they may participate. Create an overview of your group’s objectives, goals, purposes, and processes. Likewise, develop conversation guidelines that let members know what is expected of them as participants…
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