Understanding the Difficult Parishioner

Understanding the Difficult Parishioner

Interacting with seminarians typically raises two affections in me. The first is hope. God is still calling people to participate in the redemptive mission of the Kingdom, and people are still answering that call. The second, is a bit of…

Leaving Well

I have had many conversations with clergy who are contemplating leaving their ministry settings.

It’s not unusual for these consultations to come in waves, and it is always interesting that they do.

It seems that issues, crises, fads, and topics…

Everything Takes Five Years

I am often reminded of what my friend Margaret Marcuson, author of Leaders Who Last, says about bringing about change in congregations, which is, “Everything takes five years.” While that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s not far from the truth. Over…

It Only Takes a Few of Them

The forced termination of clergy remains one of the most difficult, and often tragic, issues for congregations.

It can take a congregation years to recover from the forced termination of a pastor—and so, also, for the pastor.

A single episode…

Reframing Leadership

June 10, 2019—What does it take to be an effective leader? That’s a complex and perennial question that has spawned countless books, lectures, seminars, courses, and workshops (and countless moments of personal self-doubt on the part of anyone in the…

Four Systems Traps When Starting at a New Ministry

May 27, 2019—Bill Wilson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Churches in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, wrote about “4 Traps for Clergy Moving to a New Congregation.” He named them as the trap of expectations, the…

Phrases You Should Never Use Around Church Members

May 13, 2019—We all have that painful memory of a moment when our emotions got the better of us during a moment of reactivity. As soon as we said those words we regretted them, or, if not immediately, then eventually,…

When the Honeymoon is Over

April 8, 2019—Beginning a ministry at a new church is an exciting experience. New challenges, a fresh start, promising possibilities, new relationships, can all be energizing. For most clergy, the first year at a new church is filled with excitement…

The Middle of the Story (and hurrying up to catch up)

November 26, 2018—One of the most mystical concepts in Bowen Theory is that of the multigenerational transmission process of relationship systems. This multigenerational process is a powerful force at work in biological families and in congregations. The concept…

Size Mattters, But Not Like You May Think

September 24, 2018—One common and practical schema used to understand congregations is the congregational size approach to classifying churches. Looking at congregations through this lens is used not only by denominational strategists in assessing and planning, but also by sociologists…

An Interview With Cody Sanders About Ministry With LGBTQIA Youth

August 13, 2018—Rev. Dr. Cody Sanders taught the online course, “Ministry With LGBTQIA Youth” at the Center for Lifelong Learning in October.

He is the pastor of the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, and serves as the American Baptist Chaplain…

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Church Conflict Can Take On A Life Of Its Own

July 23, 2018—Chris Hedges states that after a period of time, war begins to develop its own life. The former theology student turned journalist wrote in his book, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, that those involved…

Forced Terminations and Ethics

Ethics are often a victim of forced pastoral terminations and for that matter, the continuing conflicts in church life which lead to such traumatic moments.

Nearly every minister who has suffered an involuntary termination or a ‘near miss’ can testify…

Small But Unlimited

May 21, 2018—As a bi-vocational pastor, I am constantly reflecting on how one vocation informs the other. I serve a small congregation but I also work through The Outreach Foundation to resource small churches, and to connect them with our…

Three Challenges Every Ministry Associate Faces

Congregational ministry associates are second chair leaders. They are the lieutenants of the congregation who “get things done.” For those called to this ministry, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience (“I can’t believe they pay me to do…

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