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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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Organized Religion and the Rise of the ‘Nones’

Rabbi Eric Yoffie published a commentary on Huffington Post outlining what he sees as an over-exaggeration of the impact of the rising number of people — particularly young people — who report having no religious affiliation. Rabbi Yaffie explains that many American...
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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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The Particular Roles of Interim Pastors

The Billings Gazette featured an article discussing interim pastors and the particular roles they play. The article begins: Billings pastors Tom Hall, Joel Westby and Aline Russell enjoy getting together once a month to chat. None of the three recent acquaintances will be in town...
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Changing the Way “Things are Done”: Process Review

The Process Frame is the frame that helps us consider the way things get done within a local congregation. From the page about the process frame, “by examining the processes of a local congregation, you can examine the ways in which a congregation makes decisions, discusses...
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Lower Denominational Control: Effects of Changing Church Forms

Mark Chaves’ 2011 book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends, outlines a number of ways in which denominations have less and less control over individual congregations: 1 in 5 religious congregations in the United States are now unaffiliated (Chaves 2011). Moreover, 1 in...
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