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Congregations in Transition: A Guide for Analyzing, Assessing, and Adapting in Changing Communities



Congregations in Transition: A Guide for Analyzing, Assessing, and Adapting in Changing Communities

Carl S. Dudley, Nancy T. Ammerman

ISBN: 978-0-787-95422-2 February 2002 Jossey-Bass 208 Pages


This hands-on guide helps congregations meet the reality and challenges of today's constantly changing urban and suburban church communities. Congregations in Transition, written in an easy-to-follow workbook format, is designed to help communities of faith focus on the changing needs of their members and explore the opportunities and options open to them.
Figures, Tables, and Working Notes.

Foreword by Loren B. Mead.


1. Introduction: Invitation to a Journey.

Who Needs to Change?

What Does Change Look Like?

How Does Change Happen?

The Journey Ahead.

Getting Organized.

Companions for the Journey.

Doing the Work.

2. Getting the Lay of the Land.

The Place Map: Define Your Boundaries.

The People Map: Naming and Knowing Your Neighbors.

Conversations with Community People.

The Institutional Map: Recognizing Historical Resources.

Summary Exercise: Windshield Survey.


3. Sizing Up Your Tabernacle.

Basic Timeline: An Orientation Exercise.

Timeline of Buildings and Facilities.

Timeline of Leadership and Decision Making.

Timeline of Resources: People, Money, and Spiritual Presence.

Timeline of Worship and Music.

Summary Celebration: Creating a Comprehensive Timeline.

Summarizing Your Work.

4. Looking for Pillars of Fire.

Encountering the Wilderness.

Wilderness Exercise 1: Testing Your Choices.

Wilderness Exercise 2: Discerning Directions.

Wilderness Exercise 3: Naming the Pillar of Fire.

Imagining Life Across the Jordan.

Imagination Exercise 1: When Strangers Become Neighbors.

Imagination Exercise 2: When Neighbors Become Partners.

Imagination Exercise 3: Testing the Waters.

Coda for the Congregation: A Time for Celebration.

Across the Jordan: Settling in the Promised Land.

Launching a New Ministry: Crossing the Jordan.

New Habits of Ministry.

Sharing Kitchen Tables.

Sharing Tables, Chairs, and Schedules.

Sharing Boardroom Tables.

Sharing Sacred Tables.


The Authors.

"...a digestible marriage of keen analysis and practicalexercises..." (Christianity and Renewal, June 2002)

" is a worthwhile book, easy to read, with good directions andclear to follow.."(Christian Research)"A wonderful, useful book. Here is a chance to take an honest lookat what your church was, is, and could be. But be aware: if youjust want to tinker with your dysfunctional parts, go elsewhere foradvice. Instead, this book provides a sure, compassionate,comprehensive road map for churches willing to plunge into theexciting wilderness that is American life today-a wilderness, bythe way, that is teeming with grace and possibilities." --PaulWilkes, author, Excellent Protestant Congregations: The Guide toBest Places and Practices and Excellent Catholic Parishes:The Guide to Best Places and Practices

"Carl Dudley and Nancy Ammerman probably know more, and caremore, about the vitality of local congregations than any otherscholars in the country. Here they translate decades of astuteobservations into a clear, user-friendly, and practical set ofplanning strategies certain to help congregational leaders discernthe most faithful and effective futures for their ministries."--John P. Kretzmann, codirector, the Asset Based CommunityDevelopment Institute

"An excellent guide to developing the conversations that leadersof congregations need to be having. This is an important book forboards and planning committees making the difficult shift frombusiness as usual to discerning new futures." --Gil Rendle,director of consulting and education, the Alban Institute

"This book is timely, challenging, and practical! Carl Dudleyand Nancy Ammerman skillfully guide the pastor and church leadersthrough the journey of change toward greater effectiveness inministry. A must-read for every pastor or church leader who desiresto keep their congregation's ministry to the community on thecutting edge." --Efraim Espinoza, Commission onDiscipleship-We Build People General Council of the Assemblies ofGod