A lack of theological content and clarity may be at the core of the current malaise of many mainline Protestant congregations. It is my belief that an integral and vital relationship exists between our core convictions, our theology, and our health as congregations.

It therefore concerns me that the literature on what it takes to create healthy congregations includes a great deal on systems theory, leadership studies, conflict management, and a variety of other approaches (all of which are helpful and valid) but little that is explicitly theological or biblical in nature. By and large, it seems that congregational health is not considered to have much to do with either the core convictions of the Christian faith, theology, or the Bible.

In particular, little attention is paid to ecclesiology—the theology of church. In fact, Christian conviction about the church often seems to be missing entirely. This lack, I believe, should be central to our efforts as we work to build healthy congregations for the future.

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Featured Resources

AL282_SMReflecting with God: Connecting Faith and Daily Life in Small Groups by Abigail Johnson

In a broad sense, theological reflection happens any time that we wonder about God, our faith, our beliefs, and our values. In this book, however, Abigail Johnson offers a structured process for engaging in theological reflection by looking at a situation or event through a series of questions. She demonstrates how theological reflection will enrich the faith life of the individual and increase group members’ sense of belonging to God and to the whole people of God. She also shows how small groups engaging in theological reflection affects the ongoing life of a congregation—particularly in the community’s worship and the members’ practice of spiritual disciplines.

“Congregations and the Future”
Congregations, Winter 2006

This issue of Congregations offers reflections on key aspects of the rapidly changing world of congregational life. The articles address shifting leadership roles, cultural change and technological developments, our willingness and ability to take risks, the relationship between theological clarity and congregational health, and the effect of large trends on individual congregations. The insights and information offered in this issue will better prepare leaders to discern their congregation’s path in this complex, rapidly changing, and possibility-filled world.