One of the changes that the pandemic has brought to many congregations is that geographic proximity is no longer a primary factor in determining who participates in our congregational life. A family-sized congregation reports that former members who moved across the country years ago log on most every week to Sunday services. A program-sized congregation has had people participating in worship and Bible study from overseas week after week during the pandemic. A corporate-sized congregation is finding a deepened relationship with a global mission partner because they gather together regularly online — something they could have done before the pandemic but didn’t think to.
As I listened to each of these stories, what I heard from the leaders of these congregations is that they don’t want to lose these gifts even as their buildings reopen and in-person activities resume in greater number. They see their future as congregations as hybrid, and they are excited about this prospect. They also know that this will challenge and change the way they have been together.
In this Weekly, we continue thinking about the future of hybrid congregations. First, my colleague Alaina Kleinbeck asks that, as we move into this space, we rethink our past relationship with time for the sake of justice and transformation. John Wimberly, author of the new book Managing Congregations in a Virtual Age, asks us to re-examine our understanding of productivity. Finally, David Brubaker reminds us what won’t change about congregations even as we adapt to a hybrid future.
Welcome to the Weekly.
A new relationship with time
As we move into a new stage of the pandemic — one of cautious planning and hope tempered with the scars of protracted crisis and communal grief — we have an opportunity to rethink our relationship with time, writes the director of the Thriving in Ministry Coordination Program.
Resources for leaders during the pandemic
A hybrid world: Rethinking productivity
In our new hybrid world, congregational staff will work both remotely and in the office. Consultant and author John Wimberly says that, using what we have learned during the pandemic, hybrid work has the potential to generate higher productivity in ministry.
Leadership, structure, culture, change, conflict. Consultant and author David Brubaker names these as elements of congregational life that won’t change. But what does that mean for leading congregations well?
From the Alban Library
Empower: A Guide for Supervisor-Mentors in Theological Field Education
Edited by John Senior and Matthew Floding
As the second book in the Explorations in Theological Field Education series, Empower is a toolkit for supervisor-mentors working with beginning ministers. Chapters from ministry practitioners and field education program directors offer lessons gained through hundreds of hours of mentoring experience. Seasoned practitioners reveal how to do the work of mentoring in ways that fit particular needs of students with whom they have worked.
Guiding those who wish to deepen and expand their craft of mentoring, Empower welcomes ministry mentors into a supportive community dedicated to making theological field education a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
Before you go…
If these articles have been of benefit to you or sparked your thinking in new ways, let me encourage you to share them with others. Let them catalyze a conversation among your congregational staff or lay leadership teams. Discerning how your congregation will shape its life as a hybrid congregation isn’t your responsibility alone. Invite others to help you determine how you will steward the gifts and challenges of this time.
As you wrestle together, may you find peace along the way!
Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity