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Theologians in the Field

Over the last couple of decades, the field of practical theology has increasingly drawn on methods from the social sciences.  Most especially, people seeking to understand the theological wisdom of a community have practiced ethnographic methods for gathering information and...
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From the Archives: “Taking Time: Understanding Ministry as a Long-Term Process”

The Huffington Post recently published an article about Shobi’s Table. The article discusses a number of aspects of the new Food Truck ministry in St. Paul, Minnesota. It highlights some aspects of Lutheran theology, the changing views of the ELCA denomination, focusing...
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The Songs We Sing

An important part of the culture of every congregation is the music they experience together.  Whether it is the pipe-organ-accompanied hymns sung in a grand gothic cathedral or the a capella singing of a ”non-instrumental” Church of Christ or the chant of a cantor at Yom Kippur...
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From the Archives: “Doubt in the Pulpit: How to Handle Tough Questions”

New York City’s Riverside Church has a new pastor, Rev. Amy Butler, is not new to conflict and difficult discussions. From the article from the Washington Post, she is open about her struggles with faith and God, even while she has led a congregation. From the article, A...
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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: “6 Ways to Keep Congregational Conflicts Constructive”

Question: We are watching congregations all around us be torn apart by conflicts. How can we prevent this from happening to our church and stay out of conflict? It sounds like you are concerned that if your church has a conflict, it necessarily will be torn apart. Not all...
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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: “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 Evaluation to Engagement

Figuring out whether or not a program works poses an interesting challenge. It’s something that leaders often want to do, but the impact of our work is often in the everyday lives of people, and it would be impractical to follow people around all day. In one recent program...
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