Pastor-centered churches

A reader writes: “I’m aware of the movement away from boards and committees in church life–a movement that I believe was first put forward from non-denominational churches such as Willow Creek. This is a quite different way of viewing church life and governance, but I’m not sure how it works. Is this something your book … Read more

Charge to the minister

Charge to the minister For the installation of Tess Baumberger Unity Church, North Easton, MA March 22, 2009 by Dan Hotchkiss Tess, I’m glad you’ve come to Easton. Traditionally, the “charge to the minister” includes wise, oracular advice to the new minister from an old one. Sadly, I have no such advice to offer; if … Read more

When personal loyalties and ministry responsibilities collide

By law, board members are supposed to put the best interest of the church above all personal considerations — but how is that even possible? Board members in most churches play many other roles throughout the church, and many board decisions affect them and those they love. Potential conflicts of interest arise whenever a board … Read more

Ask Alban: Searching without Dividing

Q: Our minister has announced his retirement. During his long ministry, we have avoided most of the conflict about homosexuality raging in our national church. How can we look for a minister without dividing our congregation? A: Right now, several North American religious groups are sharply split about how and whether to accept gay clergy. … Read more

All I Really Needed to Know I Learned at Work

Around the board table, each leader brings a point of view rooted in subcultures he or she belongs to. Subcultures of sex, race, age, and nationality are often recognized. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator can help a group to acknowledge and “normalize” such differences. We have barely yet begun to see how powerful our occupational subcultures … Read more

Ask Alban: Choosing Your Next Clergy Leader

The most frequent mistake clergy search committees make is to focus too much on the perceived weaknesses of the previous clergyperson. If the predecessor was personable but poorly educated, the search committee scours the world for a Ph.D. and takes social skills for granted–after all, doesn’t every minister have them? If the last minister was … Read more

Relocating the Clergy Ego

When I speak at seminaries about leadership and management in congregations, professors usually need to be somewhere else, and students tend to doze. To wake them up, I mention a favorite topic, “ministerial authority.” Seminarians love to talk about the potent symbolism of the clergy role, and to picture people looking up at them projecting … Read more

Ask Alban: The Spiritual Challenge of Clergy Transition

Q: I’m the spiritual formation intern at a medium-sized Episcopal church whose rector is about to retire. Do you have recommendations for what I can do to support the congregation as the rector prepares to leave? Most of the resources I know about seem to focus more on the practical and business aspects of this … Read more

Salary Anxiety

Some years ago, advice columnist Ann Landers published a letter from a college student who was pondering his career choices. “My classmates are all in a race for the biggest salaries. I want security, a stable salary, and peace of mind. What jobs should I consider?” Ann reassured the young man that his desires were … Read more