There are times when all congregations need to reflect upon who they are and where they have been to discern and understand where they are going. At such times, it is important for a congregation to research, create, and present its story. In 1993, Augsburg Fortress published a book by James P. Wind that offered a complete and concise guide to constructing and telling your congregation’s story. The book is now out of print, but the team at the Congregational Resource Guide (www.congregationalresources.org) have adapted it for the Web with great success.
The author explains some valuable skills for researchers: an intense curiosity, a healthy skepticism, a creative imagination, and a solid filing system. He encourages researchers to approach their congregations from the perspective of an outsider–by looking with fresh eyes at a congregation’s building, neighborhood, liturgical symbols, organizations, activities, official and unofficial leaders, and significant transitions. He also encourages researchers to explore how the pastor and people embody their faith in the world.
Web visitors will appreciate this resource’s search feature, site map, photos, and print-ready download options. Although written for Lutherans, this resource can be readily used by other denominations and faith groups.
Who Is Our Church? Imagining Congregational Identity by Janet R. Cawley
After congregations have considered their history, added up all the statistics, and tried to be honest about their core values, the question still remains: “Who are we, really?” Author Janet Cawley offers a creative, engaging, and faithful way to answer just that question. Cawley demonstrates how to use a congregation’s knowledge of itself to construct a metaphor of the congregation as a person and then draw on that metaphor to generate options for future mission.
Branson demonstrates how concentrating on needs and problems can mire a congregation in discouragement and distract from noticing innate strengths. By focusing on memories of the congregation at its best, members are able to construct “provocative proposals” to help shape the church’s future. The first book to apply the principles of Appreciative Inquiry to the lives of congregations, Memories, Hopes, and Conversations is a groundbreaking work of narrative leadership.