Congregational development: Characteristics of intended outcome (result values)

Erling Birkedal & Harald Hegstad

International Research Consortium

St Paul Minnesota
                        March 2009





In faith
• The congregation and its members get their motivation and strength from the faith in the triune, creator, redeemer and spirit of life.
• The congregation represents a community for confessing the faith and worship God and seek his will – focused in the gathering in Jesus’ name.
• Each Christian is helped and challenged to seek God and to interpret her/his own life in light of the gospel.


In the world
• The congregation understands itself as sent as a witness of Jesus Christ in the world – and this missional perspective underlies all is activities.
• The congregation is aware of its responsibility as steward of God’s creation. It cares for humans and the environment, and seeks justice for all.
• Each Christian is helped and challenged to be a witness and live as God’s steward.

In community
• The congregation expresses itself as a community of faith.
• The congregation is a learning community, where everyone learns from listening to each other.
• The congregation invites everyone into its community.
• The congregation cares for the individual person and his/her needs and abilities.
• Each Christian experiences respect and being valued, without regard to age, sex, ethnicity or functional disablements.

In participation
• The congregation invites all its members (children, youth and adults) to get involved and to take responsibility in the life and work of the church.
• The congregation invites all its members to take part in worship, both as participants and as partners in preparation and leadership.
• Leaders and members of the congregation share and struggle for the same goals.
• Each Christian is able to participate according to one’s qualifications.

In change
• The congregation is in a process of change, seeking for renewed knowledge about itself and its context.
• Leaders are learning and listening to good advice from members and co-workers, and are willing to make changes.
• The congregation is willing to take risks, it has the ability to correct what is wrong and learn from failure.
• Each Christian is helped and challenged to work on his/her understanding of God and his/her commitment as a Christian believer.


Congregational development: Characteristics of process (process values)

Spiritual process
• Congregational development may be understood as a “spiritual journey”, where the spiritual community is developed.
• Development of the spirituality of the congregation, stimulating collective spiritual discernment.
• Space for cultural change is created, openness for engaging in difficult and controversial issues.

Contextual process
• Congregational development is grounded in systematic analysis of the congregation’s specific identity, its context and the situation it finds itself in.
• Reflexive consciousness of the specific tradition and denominational affiliation of each congregation.

Holistic process
• Development is focused on the totality of the congregation, not on isolated sectors.
• Better to do a few things and do them well, not everything at once. The things that are done should be understood as a part of a totality.

Facilitated and systematic process of learning
• Experiences are analyzed in order to learn, and make new experiences.
• The congregation is open for initiatives and proposals from members, and reviews them in the light of the values and goals of the congregation.
• Leaders facilitate a culture of learning, and make goals and intentions transparent.

Open and continuing process
• Congregational development is an open process with no predefined outcome.
• Congregational development is a process open for everyone that wants to contribute.
• Congregational development is a never ending process. However, it may be framed as defined projects.