July 13, 2010

Does Your Congregation Really Want to Grow?

Dan Hotchkiss, writing for The Alban Institute, on the theme "Funding for Today and Tomorrow," raises some interesting questions on whether congregations really want to grow and whether they are willing to budget for growth.
"Congregations almost always say they want to grow, but I've come to doubt that many really do. The more accurately people picture how a congregation changes when it grows from family-sized to pastoral, program, corporate and beyond, the more clearly they see that growth means losing the worshiping community they know and love and trading it in for one where they will feel—at least initially—like strangers.
"Ministries of service to others pose similar challenges. Like outreach to potential members, serious service to the needy requires donors and volunteers who understand that the church or synagogue exists for others at least as much as it exists to serve its members. Casual generosity will support casual service—sustained social responsibility requires a revolution in most congregations' understanding of their purpose.
"This can make it hard to raise funds for growth or service. We like to have it both ways: believing that we live for others, while at budget time demanding that the congregation focus its resources almost exclusively on satisfying the desires (excuse me, "needs") of current members."    read more