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Congregationalism in American Churches: A Reaction by R. Stephen Warner

The focus of this site is the study of congregations, understood in the most basic sense as local religious assemblies. But concepts of “the congregation,” “congregational,” and “congregationalism” have both more precise and more contested meanings. As a form of “church polity,”...
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Changing Roles of Congregational Leaders: Management Skills

David Gibson at the Religion News Service describes the changing roles of Catholic priests in the parish. He outlines the role priests must take in a parish’s finances, human resources, facilities, and security. He writes, Once upon a time, the parish staff usually...
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Congregational Profile: LifeGARDEN

LifeGARDEN, a mission of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, MN, is a labor of love of member and Associate in Ministry – Director of Worship, Alice Woodard. She explains, I first started thinking about the possibility of a community garden while attending a...
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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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The Strengths of Committees

Dan Hotchkiss at the Alban Institute wrote an interesting piece on the strength of committees. Committees, he argues, are instituted to reduce decision-making from a large group to a small group. Most “committees” he sees in congregations are actually in charge of a...
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Making a Megachurch: Hebron Baptist Church

Below is an extended quote from A Particular Place: Urban Restructuring and Religious Ecology in a Southern Exurb. The book outlines how two particular congregations grew in an area outside Atlanta. Notice how the author, Dr. Nancy Eiesland, describes the changes in the local...
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Vision in Ministry: Developing a Vision Statement

Vision statements are organized statements outlining an organization’s vision for itself. Many organizations (both secular and religious) prominently display vision statements, so many congregations feel they must too. Developing these vision statements can become empty...
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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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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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Strong Leaders for Effective Congregations

A recent article in The Guardian outlines the effect that Pope Francis has had on Catholic worship attendance. Researcher Massimo Introvigne, a sociologist and head of Italy’s Centre for the Study of New Religions (Cesnur), found that 51% of 250 priests he interviewed...
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