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Determining Strengths & Assets of Small Congregations. Warren M. Eshbach, D.Min. Adjunct Faculty, Congregational Ministry Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg. Questions. Who was raised in a community of less than 5000? 10,000? 30,000? 100,000?

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Determining Strengths & Assets of Small Congregations

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Determining Strengths & Assets of Small Congregations

Warren M. Eshbach, D.Min.

Adjunct Faculty, Congregational Ministry

Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg


Questions . . .

  • Who was raised in a community of less than 5000? 10,000? 30,000? 100,000?

  • Who had faith formation in a congregation less than 100? 200? 500? more than 1000?

  • Who believes that small congregations are generally weak?

  • Who believes that gospel sharing is harder in small congregations?


Why does Koinonia congregation survive?

  • Small, dedicated core group

  • History of good leadership

  • Good community relations – different ways in different eras


Why is Koinonia strong and small?

  • Aware of community surrounding them

  • Painfully look at selves & surroundings

  • Speak to relevant issues


Common Characteristics of New Testament Churches (Russell)

  • Households

  • Sectarian

  • Eschatological


Four Futures for 21st c. Congregations (Callahan)

  • Small, strong

  • Middle-sized

  • Large, regional

  • Mega

    “Weak or dying congregations are not about size, but about a way of thinking, planning and acting” (Callahan)


Small Congregational Health

  • Small/strong

  • Small/weak

  • Small/dying

    Each of the above is determined by a style of thinking, planning and acting.

    SMALL IS STRONG!


Marks of small, strong congregations

  • Team approach to leadership

  • Mission & service to local community

  • Compassion & shepherding

  • Caring for others

  • Worship that fosters hope

  • Generous givers

  • Self-reliance & self-suffering

  • Wise use of space & facilities


“The art is to grow the real strengths God gives you in ways that match with the community that God gives you. That takes wisdom.” Kennon Callahan


The Church with Low Self-esteem

  • Suffers from remorse

  • Denies present realities

  • Isolates self

  • Angry

  • Depressed


The church with high self-esteem

  • Knows its context

  • Ministers to that context

  • Mutual ministry of interdependence & partnership

  • Visions translated into goals

  • Vital & challenging worship

  • Empowers people

  • Guided by hope

  • Inner & outer directed


Congregational Life Cycle

DNA of a Congregation. . .

Energy

Administration

Program

Inclusion


Energy. . .Potency & potentiality


Administration . . .

Organization & structure


Program . . .Programs & services to meet various needs


Inclusion . . .Marketing, drawing, assimilating new people


ePAI

Maturity

EPAI

Prime

epAI

Aristocracy

EPai

Adolescence

EpaI

Infancy

epAi

Bureaucracy

The Cycle of a Congregation

By

Martin

Saarinen

Epai

Birth

a

Death


Changing Congregational Culture

  • Technical work

    Clearly defined problem

    Clearly defined solution

  • Adaptive work

    Unclear problem

    Solution requires learning & change


Changing Congregational Culture

  • Adaptive leadership

    Asks questions re: direction

    Offers a critique of options

    Orients persons to new roles

    Deals with conflict

    Helps establish new group norms


Characteristics of Alive & Growing Churches

  • Passionate spirituality

  • Empowered leadership

  • Gift-oriented ministry

  • Functional & fluid structures

  • Inspiring, well-executed worship

  • Wholistic small groups

  • Need-oriented evangelism

  • Loving, caring relationships


SWOT Process. . .

  • Strengths of congregation

  • Weaknesses of congregation

  • Opportunities for congregation

  • Threats for congregation


Further Resources. . .

  • “Revitalizing Congregations” by William O. Avery, 2002, The Alban Institute

  • “Small, Strong Congregations” by Kennon L. Callahan; 2000; Jossey-Bass

  • “Leadership Without Easy Answers”

    by Ronald A. Heifetz;1999; Belknap/Harvard

  • “Transforming Congregational Culture” by Anthony B. Robinson; 2003; Eerdmans

  • “In Search of the Church” by Keith A. Russell; 1994; The Alban Institute

  • “Take the Next Step” by Lovett H. Weems, Jr.; 2003; Abingdon


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