Insights on Vital Transformative Congregations

This week’s blog post is written by Reverend David Schoen, Minister for Church Legacy and Closure, for the UCC Church Building & Loan Fund. How would you define and describe spiritually vital transformative congregations? Faith Communities Today recently released Vital Congregations, a study on the meaning of spiritual vitality, as well as on becoming vital congregations,…

What Church Vitality Is Not

Late spring / early summer is a busy season in the life of the United Church of Christ—many annual meetings are taking place within conferences and associations. I was privileged to attend one such meeting and offer a keynote and workshop for the Minnesota Conference annual gathering in June. The theme of the meeting was…

Does The United Church of Christ (UCC) Have A Big-City, Big-Church, Liberal Bias?

Does the United Church of Christ (UCC) have a big-city, big-church, liberal bias? I’ve been hearing UCC lay people—and remarkably, pastors—level this charge, in three different Conferences and in various churches, since my “privilege-of-call” days in the Potomac Association of the Central Atlantic Conference in the early 1990s. Two recent instances: This past spring, a…

Fear and Loathing in the Pastor’s Study: Can Authorized Ministers Learn Innovative, Risk-Taking, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills?

In 2009, Barna Group researchers conducted a survey-based study of “the state of mainline Protestant churches” in the United States. After extensive data-crunching, they concluded that “mainline churches have weathered the past decade better than many people feared they would, but serious challenges [threaten] continued stability. The quality of leadership—especially regarding vision, creativity, strategic thinking, and…

The Politician-ization of Authorized Ministry: Some Lenten Thoughts about Dying Churches, Congregational Resurrections, and Pastoral Leadership

In case you haven’t noticed, tremendous changes are taking place in the American church. A number of pastors, scholars, and leaders, both within and outside our denomination, have issued dire warnings about the future of the Mainline church and of the United Church of Christ. For instance, In his book Transforming Congregational Culture, pastor Anthony…

Out-Thinking Creativity: Lessons for the Local Church

If adaptability is the new buzzword for church today, then the engine of that adaptability is creativity. Since the early 1990s, psychologists, scientists, and social scientists have done a lot of work to try and unlock the mystery known as creativity. This work should be considered in light of a positive psychology approach, which can…