Woolever and Bruce, Leadership That Fits Your Church

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Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, Leadership That Fits Your Church: What Kind of Pastor for What Kind of Congregation. Chalice Press, 2012.

Referenced in:

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

As I have said before, anything in The Columbia Partnership (TCP) Leadership Series is worth reading. This text is no different. It shares part of the results of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, in which 500,000 worshipers in about 5,000 congregations across America have participated. This piece of the research discusses findings on 692 leader surveys where leaders and churches reflected on their relationship and how it affects congregational life. It is probably the largest, most definitive study ever conducted on what ministers and churches do to work together effectively. Although conducted among mainline Protestant, convervative Protestant, and Catholic churches, most of the leader-church dynamics it discusses are characteristic of all worshipping communities.

Admittedly, the book reads like “research,” and at times seems redundant. On the other hand, it is worth a careful read to extract the greatest learnings and implications for one’s environment. As stated in the introduction, it helps in the following ways:

1. It helps ministers and other leadership staff to assess their strengths for ministry and understand the church contexts where those talents might best fit.

2. It helps churches understand what kind of minister might best fit the congregation.

3. It helps leaders and members know more about what ministers experience, allowing better ministerial support, and greater collaboration with the minister to enhance congregational effectiveness.

4. It helps professionals who help congregations develop an eye for leadership that is the “best fit” for a specific congregational context.

Below is a breakdown of topics:

  • What kind of pastor for what kind of church?
  • What gives a pastor satisfaction in ministry?
  • What supports a pastor’s well-being?
  • What difference do satisfaction and well-being make?
  • What part do pastors play in growing congregations?
  • What leadership approaches do pastors use?
  • What makes for the best pastor-congregation match?
**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

Publisher’s Description

Matching the right pastor with the right congregation is one of the most important — and daunting — decisions either party can make. While there are many pastors and congregations that merely fit OK, there are other matches that fit perfectly.

Leadership that Fits Your Church explores how to find what really works for pastors and congregations. Cynthia Woolever and Deborah Bruce, known for their work with congregational life research, lead you on an enlightening adventure in finding that perfect match. Follow the pastoral transition experiences of three churches: a mainline, Protestant congregation; a conservative church; and a Catholic parish. Each example starts with basic descriptions of pastors and church types, then digs into illustrations of deeper dynamics that yield a good match between congregation and pastoral leadership.

About the Authors

CYNTHIA WOOLEVER is research director of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, coeditor of The Parish Paper with Herb Miller and Lyle Schaller, and formerly a professor of sociology of religious organizations at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary. As a sociologist and consultant, she has focused on applied organizational research, working with congregations, judicatories, and seminaries throughout her twenty-five–year career.

DEBORAH BRUCE (1955-2012) was associate research manager in the research services office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and project manager of the U.S. Congregational Life Survey. She worked in a variety of applied research settings before coming to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She served as an officer for the Religious Research Association and was a member of that organization and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

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***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***


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