It’s been our core work at Alban for more than four decades now — strengthening congregations by supporting and equipping their leaders for the challenges and opportunities before them. 

This week, we pause our look at the future for hybrid congregations to ask if there are some unpredictable ways we might strengthen the work and ministry of our congregations. Lisa Vaughn wonders if we miss valuable feedback by not encouraging more complaints. In the same vein, I ask whether we should work to cultivate a loyal opposition. Henry Petroski challenges us to embrace the value of failure. And, finally, looking back in history for a guide, Kathryn Reklis finds inspiration in Jonathan Edwards the experimenter as he sought new language, new methods and new ideas to communicate the Gospel for his age. 

Welcome to an unpredictable Weekly!


Strenghtening churches by encouraging complaints

Strengthening churches by encouraging complaints

While most congregational leaders don’t have to seek out complaints, an attorney in the nuclear power industry writes that faith-based organizations would be well-served when we let our people know their concerns are welcome.


Resources for leaders during the pandemic


Cultivating a “loyal opposition”

What if Christian leaders cultivated relationships with people in their organizations and congregations who offer constructive and creative disagreement?


Embracing the value of failure

Embracing the value of failure

Failure is important because of the information it reveals and because it combats the human tendency to grow overconfident, says an engineering professor and author.


Jonathan Edwards and the afterlife of failure

A feminist scholar finds inspiration in Jonathan Edwards the experimenter, who had no choice but to reach for new language, new methods and new ideas to make the truth of the divine drama come alive for his age.


From the Alban Library

Celebrating the Graying Church: Mutual Ministry Today, Legacies Tomorrow

by Richard P. Olson

Celebrating the Graying Church: Mutual Ministry Today, Legacies Tomorrow

Today, many churches and their related agencies and ministries are shrinking. Often a large portion of those who remain are older adults. Celebrating the Graying Church suggests that this is an opportunity for a new and different kind of ministry — a ministry to, with, and from older adults who may have wisdom to pass on to the legacy of the future generations. This book offers opportunities, ideas, and guidance for this new vision and practice of ministry, while also describing how aging adults in ministry can support each other and their faith communities.


Before you go…

We’d love for you to share your own stories of unpredictable or surprising ways that you have found to strengthen your congregation, especially across the last year. Join the conversation through Alban’s social media; you’ll find links below. 

We’ll see you next week for more on the future of hybrid congregations, but in the meantime, peace! 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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