Inside the Large Congregation
AL419 | $18.00
For five years, Alban Institute senior consultant Susan Beaumont has been giving voice to the organizational and leadership demands of large congregations. Through her work, she has identified five basic leadership systems that need to stay in alignment for the large church to function well for its size: clergy leadership roles, staff team design and function, governance and board function, acculturation and the role of laity, and forming and executing strategy. She has also learned that these five systems operate with some important but subtle distinctions in what Beaumont calls the professional church (400-800 in worship attendance), the strategic church (800-1,200), and the matrix church (1,200-2,000). Often, she has discovered, problems in a large congregation are related to the fact that one or more of the five systems is inappropriately structured for the size of the congregation. In other words, the church isn’t acting its size.
The Sounds of Our Offerings is good news about the music of the church. It recounts what has been learned from studying nine congregations where music promotes the full, active, conscious participation of the worshipers and where it has done so consistently and coherently for many years. Pastors and musicians reflect on their work together and offer rich insights about what works and what does not. Lay musicians and members of the congregation also share their experiences with music in worship. Though no site was without its struggles, and at times difficult choices had to be made, for the most part, we see unremarkable, week to week, year to year, faithful rendering of music for prayer and praise. We see that sometimes the nature of the music took a slightly different turn, one that built upon the foundations of the past.
Every community of faith journeys through periods of transition. In Grace for the Journey: Practices and Possibilities for In-Between Times, authors Beverly Thompson and George Thompson invite congregations to open themselves to the grace-filled possibilities that accompany these in-between periods. Drawing on biblical examples and contemporary experience, the authors invite the community of faith to see transitional times as an opportunity to develop deeper spiritual awareness of God’s call on its communal life—a call that open up fresh potential even as it calls us to consider what familiar things may need to change. As pastors and teachers with experience in congregations across the country, the Thompsons serve as your travel guides, accompanying you and your congregation as you walk through the wilderness of transitional times to the hope-filled possibilities on the horizon.
As increasing numbers of young women are discerning a call to ministry, entering seminary, graduating, and searching for the call to a parish or other ministry setting, they need to be aware of the realities that face them. The Girlfriends’ Clergy Companion is about the nitty gritty of ministry for young female clergy—how to maintain a sense of personal style, what it’s really like to be a solo pastor, how to date, what to do when they’re ready to quit. The authors began meeting in 2008 in search of support for their ministries and themselves. Since then, they have met monthly to share their stories of life in the parish. Over the years they became more than clergy colleagues, they became girlfriends. In their conversations, they heard one another talking about what they wished they had known before beginning ministry. Those yearnings gave rise to this book.