A more fruitful conversation

Have you ever sat in a church board/council meeting wondering why more people aren’t coming to church or how you will raise enough funds to sustain important ministries? How often does that conversation spiral into frustration with much hand-wringing and few useful suggestions? For many congregations, this conversation happens often and goes nowhere.

What if instead of talking about the symptoms, you began to identify the causes? The following resources are designed to help focus congregational leaders on what matters to mission: the congregation’s connections with God, each other and the world.

The following resources were created for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and modified for the Illinoise Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church


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After your check-up, use this guide to find resources your congregation's next steps. The guide is organized by the same domains presented in the Check-up.

Reese, Martha Grace. Unbinding the Gospel. Chalice Press, 2008.

Ellison, Pat Taylor, and Patrick Keifert. "Dwelling in the Word." (2008).

Olsen, Charles M. "Transforming Church Boards." Bethesda, Md.: The Alban Institute (1995).

Worship:

Standish, N. Graham. In God’s Presence: Encountering, Experiencing, and Embracing the Holy in Worship. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Re-Pitching the Tent (Richard Giles, Canterbury Press Norwich, 2004 third edition) Christopherson, D. Foy. A Place of Encounter. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2004.

Vosko, Richard S. God’s House is Our House: Re-imagining the Environment for Worship. Collegeville: Order of St. Benedict, 2006.

Daubert, Dave. Living Lutheran: Renewing Your Congregation. Augsburg Books, 2007.

Rick Rouse, and Craig Van Gelder. A field guide for the missional congregation: Embarking on a journey of transformation. Augsburg Fortress Pub, 2008.

Keifert, Patrick. "We are here now: A new missional era." Idaho: Allelon (2006).

Rainer, Thom S., and Eric Geiger. Simple church: Returning to God's process for making disciples. B&H Publishing Group, 2011.

McNeal, Reggie. Missional Renaissance: Changing the scorecard for the Church. Vol. 28. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Erlander, Daniel. Baptized, We Live. Select, 1981.

Gil Rendle and Alice Mann. Holy Conversations: Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations. Alban, 2003.

Attend Synod Leadership Gatherings/Trainings

Have annual church council retreats

Look through church directory and invite new people to participate

Get a mentor/coach

Ask people how they want to contribute rather than inviting them to be on a committee
Roxburgh, Alan, and Fred Romanuk. The missional leader: Equipping your church to reach a changing world. Vol. 17. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Zscheile, Dwight J. The Agile Church: Spirit-Led Innovation in an Uncertain Age. Church Publishing, Inc., 2014.

Richard Brueshoff. Pastor and People: Making Mutual Ministry Work. Augsburg Fortress, 2003

Rendle, Gilbert R. Leading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual & Organizational Tools for Leaders. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

Heifetz, Ronald Abadian, Alexander Grashow, and Martin Linsky. The practice of adaptive leadership: Tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world. Harvard Business Press, 2009.

Rath, Tom. Strengths Finder 2.0. Gallup Press, 2007.

Hold council retreats

Develop small group Bible Studies

Fellowship

Three minutes for God (talk with someone you don't know for 2 minutes after worship)

Supper clubs

One to One discussion Guide
O'Brien, Brandon J. The Strategically Small Church: Intimate, Nimble, Authentic, and Effective. Bethany House, 2010.

Gilbert R. Rendle. Behavioral Covenants in Congregations. Alban, 1999

Snow, Luther K. The power of asset mapping: How your congregation can act on its gifts. Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.

Foss, Michael W. Power surge: Six marks of discipleship for a changing church. Fortress Press, 2000.

Preparing for change:

Roy D. Phillips. Letting Go: transforming congregations for ministry. Alban, 1999

Carol Howard Merritt. Reframing Hope: vital ministry in a new generation. Alban, 2010

Healing:

Eric Law. The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb. Chalice Press, 1993

Abigail Evans. Healing Liturgies for the seasons of life. Westminster John Knox Press, 2004

Reese, Martha Grace. Unbinding the Gospel. Chalice Press, 2008.

Moss, Robert G. The Neighborhood Church: God's Vision of Success. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014.

Roxburgh, Alan J. “Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of Church in Our Time” (2015)

Sparks, Paul, Tim Soerens, and Dwight J. Friesen. The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community. InterVarsity Press, 2010.

Roxburgh, Alan J. "Missional; Joining God’s Church in the Neighborhood." (2011).

Salvatierra, Rev Alexia, and Peter Heltzel. Faith-rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. InterVarsity Press, 2013.

Zscheile, Dwight J. The Agile Church: Spirit-Led Innovation in an Uncertain Age. Church Publishing, Inc., 2014.

Shaffer, Carolyn, and Kristin Anundsen. Creating community anywhere: Finding support and connection in a fragmented world. Tarcher, 1993.

Twist, Lynne, and Teresa Barker. The soul of money: Transforming your relationship with money and life. WW Norton & Company, 2003.

Snow, Luther K. The power of asset mapping: How your congregation can act on its gifts. Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.

O'Brien, Brandon J. The Strategically Small Church: Intimate, Nimble, Authentic, and Effective. Bethany House, 2010.

Standish, N. Graham. Becoming a blessed church: Forming a church of spiritual purpose, presence, and power. Rowman & Littlefield, 2004.

Do annual staff performance reviews (inc. pastor)

Use synod resources

Annual council retreats

Orient and train new council members

Use council Exec. Committee to plan council meetings

Put budget last on council agenda

Use mutual ministry teams

Term limits on all committees
Hamel, Gary. "What matters now." Strategic Direction 28.9 (2012).

Olsen, Charles M. "Transforming Church Boards." Bethesda, Md.: The Alban Institute (1995).

Resource Sharing

The Congregational Vitality Project embraces continuous learning. New resources for congregations are constantly being developed, shared and tweaked based on feedback from practitioners.  Got a resource to share? Email Office@congregationalvitalityproject.com