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Female Catholic Priests: Muddied Organizational Waters

The Kansas City Star is reporting that Georgia Walker — a woman — became a Roman Catholic priest last Saturday. The stories of women becoming ordained within the Roman Catholic church circulate every few years. These services take place outside of Catholic churches,...
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Eyeing the Budget: Content Analysis of Priorities

When you’re having a problem within your congregation, you should 1) figure out a research question, 2) then determine the best way to examine the question using a variety of research tools, and 3) examine the data from a variety of perspectives or frames. We talk a lot...
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Levels of Concern: Problems Facing Denominations

An eternal problem with denominations is that the broader denomination must be funded somehow, generally through payment from local congregations. And depending on the size of the denominational organization, those costs can be high. A recent Letter to the Editor in the Des...
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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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Maintaining Boundaries: The Process of Enforcing Expectations

New members to any group need to learn the unspoken rules and norms of the community. A newcomer may lack the history and understanding of “the way things are done here,” and may make embarrassing mistakes and missteps within the congregation. Perhaps a newcomer asked...
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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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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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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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Discomfort in the Pews: Working With Multiethnic Congregations

Corey Widmer wrote an interesting piece at Christianity Today about his work within a multiethnic congregation in Richmond, VA. He outlines some of the unique situations he and the other congregational leaders and members encountered in attempting to bridge ethnic divides:...
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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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