With this first Alban Weekly of the new year, let’s revisit the themes that resonated most with readers in 2022.

For most of us, 2022 was another year spent learning how to navigate unfamiliar territory. The more we moved past the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the more we realized how much our congregational habits had changed. It’s no surprise, then, that the most popular Alban Weekly issues from last year called our attention to the renewal of people, purpose and places. We’re all asking questions like:

  • How do we reengage volunteers? 
  • What do we do with facilities that are out of date and too expensive to maintain? 
  • How do we discern and develop spiritual leaders for ministry? 
  • What should the church be doing? 
  • How do we sustain our well-being while leading others?

People are at the heart of what we do as congregational leaders. Thriving people are critical for thriving congregations. From a leadership perspective, we long for lay leadership that is “compelled by the love of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:14). As one pastor told his congregation, “We don’t have a church problem. We have a Jesus problem.” Serving in ministry is more than just a good way to spend time. Together we build authentic community and carry out the missio Dei.

We also see that place has taken on new meaning for many congregations. The pandemic prompted churches to reexamine their historic attachment to sacred structures. Given that many churches have yet to reach pre-pandemic attendance levels, congregations are thinking seriously about the best way to be good stewards of their physical assets. Can we do the same ministry — or better ministry — with a smaller footprint? Can we then deploy surplus financial resources to other aspects of the vision?

In 2022, the idea of purpose also resonated with Alban Weekly readers. The public protests connected to the death of George Floyd captured the headlines of summer 2020, and cries for justice and peace spurred us to ask anew about the church’s witness and where the church is at work in the world. The ongoing focus on purpose is an indication that we’re still asking the right questions. That’s a good thing.

In case you missed them, check out this curated list of 2022’s most popular issues:

Happy New Year! God’s grace be with you as you equip the saints for the work of ministry. 

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity


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