by Dan Hotchkiss It’s good to pay attention to what’s going well. Most congregations—like most people—can accomplish more by building on their strengths than worrying about how to fix everything that could be better. That’s the basic insight of Appreciative Inquiry and other asset-based approaches to strategic planning: Instead of asking “What’s the matter?” ask, … Read moreWhat’s Good about That?
by Dan Hotchkiss It was an awkward moment. I stood in a glorious stone room with the remnant of a once-large congregation, doing my best to play the neutral as I facilitated their planning conversation. We went round and round, till finally an older gent stood up and nailed me. “Do you think we can … Read moreLeft Behind
… you might want to listen to this public radio interview with my niece Samira Hotchkiss Mehta about the pre-teen phenomenon Twilight and the Mormon worldview of its author: http://interfaithradio.org/SamiraMehta Interesting in its own right, and in my unbiased opinion, possibly an early glimpse of an up-and-coming public intellectual at work.
Planning efforts often fail, and one important reason is that leaders underestimate the time it takes for causes to produce effects. Your planning process may discern, for instance, that your mission calls you to invite more people than your current space will hold. But if you build a bigger sanctuary, you will produce dust, noise, … Read moreDon’t underestimate system delays
Our parents’ and grandparents’ memories of the Great Depression are not fond ones, but they came with a silver lining: when you’re making do with less, you learn what really matters. Having less is no fun, as many church executives are finding out. Unpaid pledges, unmet campaign goals, plummeting investment funds— the fiscal story over … Read moreMaking Do with Less
When churches plan, one of the things they often plan to do is grow. They have their reasons: the Great Commission, for one, and the fact that spreading the gospel is a main point of the congregation’s purpose. But when you get past polite chit-chat, other motives will assert themselves. For clergy, church growth is … Read morePlanning to Grow
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 moreAll I Really Needed to Know I Learned at Work
Years ago a bright Yale student asked me how I would describe the difference between a church and any other charitable group. I gave the sort of answer most of us might give: I emphasized the church’s unique life-transforming mission and its special responsibility to treasure and transmit precious traditions across generations.It was a good … Read moreThe Stewardship of Risk
Few projects excite and galvanize a congregation more than a new building or a major renovation. People complain about construction delays, capital campaigns, and the general din and dust, but their blood pumps, their wallets loosen, and their enthusiasm rises. Lyle Schaller went so far as to generalize that congregations that build capital are happier … Read moreThe Post-Construction Blues
Most congregations engage in social ministry to some degree, and most feel that their efforts could be better. But planning for ministries that seek to serve or influence the world beyond the sanctuary can be challenging. Because the world’s needs are so large and complicated, outreach efforts are especially vulnerable to criticism. How, then, to … Read morePlanning for Social Ministry