In difficult times, relationships provide tangible help, advice, resources, and emotional support. This is true not only for individuals but also for religious congregations. U.S. congregations are experiencing many opportunities and challenges because of dramatic shifts in the American religious landscape as well as the lingering effects of the pandemic. For ministers and leaders at congregations, these changes may have sparked feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and disorientation. Fortunately, relationships with other congregations and religious groups can have a positive impact on how congregations are responding to the opportunities and challenges they face in an uncertain future.
In this book, Jennifer McClure draws on conversations with congregational ministers and leaders from central Alabama to share stories about the various kinds of relationships they have and what difference those relationships make, using this case study to make larger points about the broader congregational landscape in the United States. McClure focuses on several kinds of relationships: relationships primarily within religious groups, relationships exclusively within distinctive religious groups, relationships between religious groups, relationships within racial groups, and relationships between racial groups.
For ministers and congregational leaders who are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and perhaps bewildered by all the changes that have taken place in their congregations and communities, this book is a timely and important resource to find support, ideas, and collaborations through relationships with other clergy members and congregations.
Jennifer M. McClure Haraway is a sociologist of religion who studies local congregations. She is an associate professor of religion and sociology at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She also develops congregational resources with the Association of Religion Data Archives and serves as the congregational research strategist at Samford’s Center for Congregational Resources. Find her on Twitter at @jenniferm2clure and on Google Scholar.
Filled with instructive examples and research-based tips, it is a timely reminder that churches are stronger together than they are alone. Buy copies for all your clergy friends and engage with them in a study of this helpful book.
Dr. McClure knows faith is about relationships. Connections between leaders from a variety of religious expressions provide support, most importantly, emotional support. Based on excellent research, Dr. McClure has produced a profoundly practical text. Read it.Connect. You won't be alone.
Sociologist Jennifer McClure argues congregations need each other. Using survey data and interviews from congregations in Central Alabama, McClure recounts ways that congregations interact and the consequences of their interactions. Stories from congregations are shared in a conversational style with an emphasis on practical application.
Dr. McClure Haraway has taken some of the key concepts of social network studies and applied them fruitfully to help ministry leaders and congregations foster their relational connections. No Congregation is an Island would be valuable for anyone seeking to understand and develop congregational relationships in a way that will extend and enhance their ministry. This book is both highly accessible to the practitioner and provides a rich theoretical commentary and set of references for those who want to understand the underlying mechanism of why social networks function as they do.
”No Congregation is an Island” will benefit any clergyperson who understands the mental, physical and emotional stresses of ministry. As congregations seek new ways of meeting current challenges, many will discover new approaches through informal and formal partnerships with other congregations.