As congregations developed online worship offerings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many learned that their reach could be far greater online than it had been previously. Some churches report people regularly logging on from across the continent or across an ocean. Many leaders have been asking how to maintain these newfound congregants when in-person worship resumes at full capacity, and serving both an in-person and an online congregation feels like one of the most significant post-pandemic challenges facing leaders. The Weekly will have more on that in the weeks ahead.

For today, our attention is focused on how congregations are rooted in particular places and how those places shape our life and ministry. We start in Shoreline, Washington, with the Practicing Church, a house church (now on Zoom) that has prioritized serving its neighborhood. Then, we head to Washington, DC, to hear how several churches are balancing welcome and security in the nation’s capital. They’re not alone in wrestling with that question; congregations across the country have been asking their own versions of that question for years. Also, John Wimberly interviews Rabbi Aaron Bisno, the senior rabbi at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, about why collaboration matters.

If you haven’t read Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World: Platforms, People, and Purpose yet, we’ll introduce you to the book by Hayim Herring and Terri Martinson Elton at the end of this edition. 

Welcome to the Weekly. 


Practicing Church in Shoreline, WA, seeks to live out its faith in its neighborhood

The Practicing Church in Shoreline, Washington, seeks to live out its faith in its neighborhood

Throughout his career, Duke Divinity School Dean L. Gregory Jones has been thinking, writing and speaking about leadership. In this interview with our colleagues at Faith & Leadership, he reflects on what he has learned and why leaders should find inspiration in jazz.


Resources for leaders during the pandemic


Churches in the nation’s capital seek to balance welcome and security

The neighborhood surrounding a congregation can bring incredible opportunities for ministry and service. It can also present a significant challenge to a congregation, particularly when that neighborhood has been a place of repeated protest and national attention.


Dare we go it alone?

Consultant John Wimberly talked recently with Rabbi Aaron Bisno, senior rabbi at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, and came away convinced that the “go it alone” model of congregational life is dead. You can read their conversation on the Congregational Consulting Group website.


From the Alban Library

Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World: Platforms, People, and Purpose

by Hayim Herring and Terri Martinson Elton

Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World

Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World shares emerging practices for leading and organizing congregations and nonprofits in our increasingly networked lives. Drawing on studies of congregations across denominations and of nonprofits with historic ties to faith communities, Hayim Herring and Terri Elton share practical, research-based guidance for how these organizations can more deeply engage with their communities and advance their impact in a socially connected world.


Before you go…

“We’re on a campaign to say that we think that God is reorganizing the church around the neighborhood,” said Tim Soerens, the co-founding director of Parish Collective, in a 2020 interview with our colleagues at Faith & Leadership. “I think that [the pandemic] is going to accelerate that.… How we pay attention to what God is up to in our actual places will be more important than ever.”

So what’s happening in your neighborhood that you would identify as the work of God in your midst? How can your congregation be a part of it, and with whom can you partner to extend that good work? Those are the questions I’m asking based on this Weekly; maybe you are, too.

We’ll see you next week, and in the meantime, peace to your neighborhood! 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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