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Clergy Shortage or Pulpit Shortage?

At a meeting of our Conference’s Church and Ministry Council last week, we were looking at the newly released Fall 2016 Statistical Profile of the United Church of Christ. It has some graphs that should look very familiar by now, showing a denomination that continues to grow smaller. One of our younger clergy on the…

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Mind the Tiller: Leading a Church to Closure

This special post is written by The Rev. Dr. Gail Cafferata, Episcopal priest and sociologist of religion whose current research focuses on pastors who have closed churches. Dr. Gail Cafferata has worked with CARD to gather data on UCC churches that have closed between 2010 and 2012, as well as gathering information about the pastors who…

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Election Lent

As of this posting, there are 23 days left until the Presidential election and I am halfway through a self-imposed season of Election Lent. Most of us “religious types” know what Lent is: a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. The length of the Lenten fast was…

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Ministry to Caregivers

Soon after Don and Judy joined the church, Judy’s octogenarian mother, Flo, moved into their home due to “memory issues”. Flo attended services with her daughter and son-in-law for about 18 months. Worship had been her only connection with the congregation during these months in her daughter’s community. Slowly, Judy and Flo’s attendance at worship…

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How Our StillSpeaking God Is Transforming Her StillConsequential Church, But Church People Are StillResisting and StillTalking Past One Another

Churches and denominations are being buffeted by momentous social change—and many good church people are in denial about, or are resisting, what is happening all around them. For example, recent Barna Group research suggests that “many of those outside [of] Christianity, especially younger adults, have little trust in the Christian faith” or in churchgoers. They…

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Fitness Reviews and Ministry Experience

This week’s post is written by Rev. Elizabeth Dilley of the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA) Team within the UCC’s national setting.  Every year, I do a deeper dive into data related to fitness reviews, the disciplinary reviews in the United Church of Christ. Last year, I explored outcomes of fitness reviews. This year, in…

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What is Good Preaching?

The Pew Research Center has released a study about what folks look for when looking for a new church. Considering that half of U.S. adults end up looking for a new church at some point in their lives, this is a crucial study for understanding the vitality of the modern American Church. So what are folks…