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From the Archives: “Building Your Community: The Process of Assimilation”

One important aspect of your congregation is recognizing the boundaries of who is included versus those who aren’t. A key way to understand the way the community is built is by examining the processes of assimilation — how are people brought into the community?...
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From the Archives: “Different Needs: Urban and Suburban Congregations”

The Houston Chronicle published a piece outlining the multi-site, First Methodist Church in Houston. One location is in the suburbs, whereas the other location is downtown Houston. The United Methodist Reporter outlines some of the differences between the communities: “It will be...
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From the Archives: “A View of Your Neighborhood: A Walking Tour”

One of the best ways to get a feel for the community around your congregation is to walk the streets. Now that it’s getting warmer, I took a walk around my neighborhood in Somerville MA, and here’s some of the things I found: There are shopping areas —
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From the Archives: “Using Ritual to Assist in Change”

An article from the York, Pennsylvania Dispatch outlined how two churches used ceremony and ritual to merge. Trinity and Fourth United Methodist churches were set to merge, but instead of a more traditional merging ceremony, the planners opted to bring in a particular ritual...
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From the Archives: “Implicit Assumptions and Expectations: Spell Them Out”

Many religious leaders struggle with fitting into new congregations. Congregants may have implicit assumptions and expectations of the new leader — whether it’s what day the leader takes off, to how frequently he visits those who are homebound, to preaching or...
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From the Archives: “4 Ways to Reconsider Your Congregation”

We talk a lot on studyingcongregations.org about Frames for Studying Congregations. We use the word “frame” to mean ways to organize thoughts around the topic of studying congregation — you could also think of it as a lens or an orienting strategy. You might be...
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From the Archives: “What do we know about congregational size?”

Question: What do we know about congregational size? In the United States, most congregations are smaller than 100 people, but most people attend congregations that are large. This points to the fact that many people attend “megachurches,” or churches larger than...
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From the Archives: “Daily Struggles: Tasks in Leadership”

There are a number of key tasks that congregational leaders must help congregational members do. First, congregational leaders must help the congregation to get a realistic understanding of its surroundings, circumstances, and situation. Second, congregational leaders must help...
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From the Archives: “Congregational Conflict: Listening to the Conflict”

Conflict is a natural part of human interaction — there will be differences in opinion and perception in every day life. However, examining how your congregation deals with conflict can provide needed insights into the life of the congregation. Some congregations suppress...
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From the Archives: “How to Ask Good Questions”

An important part of any study is having a clear research question. The language of “research question” may seem intimidating for a little investigation about your congregation, but to be able to figure out what is going on in your community, you need to be precise...
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