Congregations, like individuals, often make resolutions for the new year. If your congregation still is mulling over possibilities for the year, Raising the Roof contains ideas that could spark a resolution or two. Visit www.sizetransitions.org for more about the book and seminar.
One such idea involves small-group ministries. Although her book focuses on the pastoral-to-program size transition, Mann provides suggestions that apply to congregations of all sizes. She encourages congregations to give conscious attention to the quality of group life by:
- New Opportunities: Ensuring that a new group is formed every year to 18 months (since new groups are the easiest for new people to join).
- Variety: Fostering a range of small-group opportunities for prayer, study, service, and decision making.
- Experimentation: Sponsoring some short-term small-group experiences each year in which members may experiment with spiritual growth and the congregation may “try out” ideas for longer-term groups.
- Openness: Helping existing groups to become more permeable to new members.
- Education: Training and supporting group leaders.
- Climate Control: Monitoring the climate of group life, and coaching leaders when problems arise.
- Inspiration: Enriching the life of committees with simple spiritual practices: storytelling, sharing of joys and concerns, asking group members to identify Bible passages or hymns that relate to work of the group.
- Closure: Helping groups close in a positive way when they have completed their arc of energy.
Based on excerpts from Raising the Roof, by Alice Mann, pg. 28. The Alban Institute, 2001.
Conceptualized and developed by Mann for an Alban on-line seminar program test event conducted with 12 congregations in transition, her newest book features a five-step process enabling the learning team to engage a wider circle of congregational leaders and members in study, discernment, and planning. Never-before published resources include discussion of a major new concept—passive barriers to growth—plus Mann’s “System Change Index” tool to help congregations measure their progress from pastoral-size to program-size ways of operating.
Alban Senior Consultant Mann draws on her lengthy experience in helping congregations deal with the hurdles and anxieties of expansion or contraction in size. Often, congregations experiencing size change do not recognize the need to change culture and form as part of the successful adaptation process. Mann details the adjustments in attitude—as well as practice—that are necessary to support successful size change.