Dear Readers,

The Alban Institute would like to thank you for your positive response to the Alban Weekly. Since our launch in July 2004, our newsletter has been opened over 80,000 times. For our special Thanksgiving issue, we are bringing back the Top Five articles you, as our readers, found most interesting, along with the Top Five book choices. We have enjoyed reading your comments and suggestions, and we will continue to send articles that will be helpful to your ministry. Thank you again for supporting Alban!



Number 1: Four Myths About Giving  by Ian Evison

Some people give time and some people give money, but few people give time and money—myth or reality? Here are four myths about giving that a congregational leader will want to debunk!

Number 2: Snap Shot of Church Finances: Budget Self-Test  by Dan Hotchkiss

Congregations—like most organizations—face the ongoing challenge of how best to balance their income and expenses. Gauge how your congregation compares to best practices while deciding how much to spend on facilities, staff compensation, and programs. Dan Hotchkiss, Alban senior consultant and author of Ministry and Money: A Guide for Clergy and Their Friends, offers a quick survey to help a congregation get a snapshot of its finances.

Number 3: When it Comes to Emotional Intelligence, How Savvy Are You?

What do congregational leaders need to succeed and what causes them to fail? It’s a lot more than what they know or even how they preach. One piece that is essential is the ability to relate to people—or emotional intelligence. Take this quiz online by the HayGroup Emotional Intelligence Services.

Number 4: New Conversations  by Jim Wind

Diana Butler Bass, a gifted scholar of American religion, shared with Alban some early findings of her new research project, Congregations of Intentional Practice. The project has an important message for people within and beyond mainline Protestantism—that there are vital mainline congregations responding to the challenges of our era with vitality, imagination, and growth.

Number 5: Contemporary Congregations: The Established/Intentional Continuum  by Diana Butler Bass

During a time when the story about mainline Protestantism seems to be one of decline or conflict or confusion or scandal, Butler Bass argues that there is another story to be told. First, there is a significant story about what is happening outside congregations. And then there is another story about what is happening within a number of congregations. Rather than focus on the conservative-liberal continuum that long has been used to characterize congregations, Butler Bass is explores what she refers to as the established-intentional continuum. See where your congregation falls on the continuum. 


AL251_SMMinistry and Money: A Guide for Clergy and Their Friends by Dan Hotchkiss

Frank, straightforward guidance for clergy seeking to develop a sound theology of money and skills for church administration, Ministry and Money also puts forth a new strategy for self-care, and a confident approach to managing both personal and congregational finances. Alban Senior Consultant and author Dan Hotchkiss wants to help clergy overcome their own anxieties about money matters so they can help others address the personal, social, and congregational aspects of this challenging and often difficult topic. Click here to read a chapter.

AL279_SMWhen Better Isn’t Enough: Evaluation Tools for the 21st Century by Jill M. Hudson

Many sociologists and a growing number of church scholars have noted that we live in a time of transition—from the modern era to the postmodern. Whenever a shift of this magnitude occurs, it leaves all of life, including the church, in flux. We instinctively strive to stabilize the situation by re-establishing what has worked in the past. Increasingly, however, congregations are finding that the same old things done harder or better don’t seem to make a difference.

AL186_SMLeading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual and Organizational Tools for Leaders by Gilbert R. Rendle

Many books have been written about leadership and change, but until now none has focused on the kind of change that tears at a community’s very fabric. Alban senior consultant Gil Rendle provides a respectful context for understanding change, especially the experiences and resistances that people feel. Rendle pulls together theory, research, and his work with churches facing change to provide leaders with practical diagnostic models and tools. In a time when change is the norm, this book helps to “lead change” in a spiritual and healthy way. Click here to read one chapter.

AL260_SMRedeveloping the Congregation: A How- to for Lasting Change by Mary K. Sellon, Daniel P. Smith, and Gail F. Grossman

What makes it possible for a church to reverse course from decline or stagnation into longlasting vitality? How can a church immigrate from a congealing present into a compelling future? What can a congregation do to experience continuous, deep change rather than just temporary, surface improvement? How does a person lead redevelopment? The three authors of this book address these and other questions by building on an eight-step framework for lasting change developed by John P. Kotter, noted former professor of organizational behavior at Harvard Business School. Click here to read one chapter.

AL295_SMThe Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church by Diana Butler Bass

The conventional wisdom about mainline Protestantism maintains that it is a dying tradition
, irrelevant to a postmodern society, unresponsive to change, and increasingly disconnected from its core faith tenets. In her provocative new book, historian and researcher Diana Butler Bass argues that there are signs that mainline Protestant churches are indeed changing, finding a new vitality intentionally grounded in Christian practices and laying the groundwork for a new type of congregation.