Alban members receive a subscription to Congregations, our award-winning magazine. Our mission is to provide clergy and lay leaders with practical, research-based information and ideas for effective ministry as they grapple with an ever-changing environment. Congregations is sent quarterly to all members of the Alban Institute. It is the successor to Action Information, published since 1975.
“I cannot recommend this magazine and this institute to you highly enough!” — The Rev. Jan Smith Wood, Dean of Students, Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
This issue of Congregations is organized around five key concepts we are using in our redesign of Alban’s website to describe the work of the Institute and the ways it can help congregations. For each of these areas—Explore, Understand, Change, Respond, and Hope—we offer three short pieces that have been among the most popular published in our weekly electronic newsletter.
- Twelve Characteristics for Effective 21st-Century Ministry (READ NOW)
Jill Hudson explores the skills our fast-paced, constantly changing world demands of pastors.
- Creating “Breadlike” Boards (MEMBERS ONLY)
Charles M. Olsen looks at ways that board meetings can integrate inspiration with governance and feel more like worship than meeting.
- Is E-mail the New Parking Lot? (MEMBERS ONLY)
Susan Nienaber, an Alban Senior Consultant who specializes in conflicted situations, wonders “Is E-mail the New Parking Lot?”
- Rational Functionalism (READ NOW)
N. Graham Standish urges congregations to let go of their desire to control and become open to God at their core.
- Why Pay the Preacher? (MEMBERS ONLY)
Alban Senior Consultant Dan Hotchkiss takes on an always tricky question of how long it takes to prepare a sermon.
- Twenty Observations about Troubled Congregations (MEMBERS ONLY)
Peter L. Steinke shares what he has learned from working with congregations in times of conflict.
- The Importance of Outcomes (READ NOW)
Gil Rendle and Susan Beaumont urge us not to confuse knowing what needs to be done with knowing how to do it.
- Turning Toward Life (MEMBERS ONLY)
Writing about the turnaround of a declining congregation, Mary Louise Gifford tells how fifty years of decline was interrupted by a willingness to take risks and experience success.
- Developing the Capacity to Attach Anew (MEMBERS ONLY)
Kenneth J. McFayden tells how change that generates loss leads to grief and how congregations can be led back to new attachments.
- Your Building Speaks (READ NOW)
Nancy DeMott, Tim Shapiro, and Brent Bill from the Indianapolis Center for Congregations show how to listen to your building to discern how it can most effectively support a congregation’s mission.
- Icing on the Cake (MEMBERS ONLY)
For many, making a congregational connection is an attempt to put the “icing on the cake” of one’s life. Rather, Rick Barger says, they would better think of it as a call to a complete reorientation of life in the light of a sacred story.
- The Encouraging Leader (MEMBERS ONLY)
Paul Moots says that a ministry of encouragement is the primary way a congregation can discover and fulfill its call to make disciples.
- Expeditions into What is Possible (READ NOW)
Alban Senior Consultant Lawrence Peers explores how leaders must both honor a congregation’s story and help shape the story of the congregation’s future.
- Nurturing the Tree of Life (MEMBERS ONLY)
Young people today, Carol Howard Merritt writes, “long to live with intention and meaning.” She says that our congregations are just the place they can learn to do that.
- Dying as the Way to Life (MEMBERS ONLY)
Peter Bush says that only when the church understands that its death is possible can it experience the amazing power of resurrection.
The Leading Edge (READ NOW)
Alban president James P. Wind reflects on the dynamic nature of clergy leadership through American history and the ways they have helped congregations explore, understand, change, respond, and hope.
Ask Alban (READ NOW)
Susan Beaumont, senior consultant for the Alban Institute, reflects on the purpose of a personnel committee.
New & Noteworthy