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Celebrations and Changes

The Center for Congregational Health is in its 25th year!  The Center has been working with congregations, clergy and lay leaders since November of 1992.  As we move through the remainder of this year, we celebrate 25 years of partnering with congregations and leaders to help your churches make a difference in your communities.  Thank you for 25 years of serving together, we look forward to the many ways we may continue to work together.

For 21 of those 25 years, the Rev. Dr. B. Leslie Robinson, Jr. has worked full-time with the Center as Manager of Interim Ministry Resources, with a period of time as acting director.  During that time, Les has worked with several hundred congregations, training more than 2500 interim ministers representing 27 denominations, traveling to 33 states and 2 foreign countries. We are grateful for Les’ leadership and ministry and the amazing work that he has done throughout the years.

We all knew the day would come when Les would want a bit more freedom from the 40+ hour work week and that day has come!  There is good news to go along with it—Les may be scaling back and thinking about his time a bit differently, however he will continue to work with the Center for Congregational Health providing oversight and curriculum development for the Intentional Interim Ministry Training program and for the Association of Intentional Interim Ministers.  We are delighted and honored that Les is choosing to continue the very important work for which he is very well known, and that he will continue to journey with us.

In honor of Les and the work he has done with the Center for Congregational Health, we have worked with the NC Baptist Foundation who manages the Poe Fund, to establish a line item of financial donation where the funds will be used to assist congregations who desire to use the services of the Center for Congregational Health and do not have the funds to do so, we invite and encourage you to offer a financial gift to the Poe Fund in honor of Dr. B. Leslie Robinson, Jr and the work he has accomplished in living out his calling.   When sending a donation, please designate for the “Les Robinson Fund”.  Donations may be mailed to:  the Center for Congregational Health, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157.

Posted in: Consulting, Future, History, Interim Ministry, Leadership, Uncategorized

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A new year, a new look at congregations

By Chris Gambill

Faith Communities Today has just released its introductory report from the Faith Communities Today 2015 (FACT 2015) national survey of American congregations. This is their most recent survey that originally began in 2000. The entire FACT survey series includes responses from over 32,000 randomly selected congregations from all denominations and faith traditions. I believe it is one of the very best snapshots of American congregational life available. It’s full of fascinating information and more than a few, “Wow I didn’t know that!” insights. Here’s one to whet your appetite.

 

The report leads off with a section entitled, “For congregations, size matters.” The first breath-catching data point shows that the number of smaller congregations (less than 100 in worship attendance) has risen dramatically in the last five years--from 49.1 percent of congregations to 57.9 percent. This means that for the first time (at least since 2000) well over half of all American congregations have less than 100 in worship on weekends. While having more smaller congregations is not necessarily bad, what is disturbing is that in addition, median worship attendance has fallen from 129 in 2005, to only 80 in 2015. The final data gut-punch in this section shows that these same smaller congregations (100 or fewer attendees in worship) are only half as likely to be “highly spiritually vital” (reflecting a specific set of measures they used).

 

So what does this all mean? In simplest terms, there are a growing number of smaller congregations, with likely declining in attendance overall, and struggling more than larger congregations to foster the kind of spiritual climate they want and need to thrive.

 

The big question this raises for me is “Who will help them?” Being a smaller congregation usually means there are fewer financial and other resources. Judicatories and denominations are, for the most part, also shrinking and have less capacity to help. Despite the shrinking resource pool, the Center for Congregational Health will continue to serve all churches. This has always been a core component of our mission and we work hard to find ways to make our services available to all congregations--regardless of their size or resources.  

 

Posted in: Congregations, Ministers

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