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Holy Conversations

Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations

Gil Rendle and Alice Mann

Planning can be challenging in the contemporary congregation, where people share a common faith and values but may have very different preferences and needs. Much of the literature on congregational planning presents it as a technical process: the leader serves as the chief problem solver, and the goal is finding “the solution to the problem.”

Popular Alban consultants and authors Gil Rendle and Alice Mann cast planning as a “holy conversation,” a congregational discernment process about three critical questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What has God called us to do or be?
  • Who is our neighbor?

Rendle and Mann equip congregational leaders with a broad and creative range of ideas, pathways, processes, and tools for planning. By choosing the resources that best suit their needs and context, congregations will shape their own strengthening, transforming, holy conversation. They will find a path that is faithful to their identity and their relationship with God.

Resource materials are available to purchasers of the book. E-mail resources@rowman.com for more information.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / Alban Books
Pages: 316Size: 7 x 10
978-1-56699-286-2 • Paperback • November 2003 • $29.00 • (£19.95)
978-1-56699-546-7 • eBook • November 2003 • $27.00 • (£17.95)
Gil Rendle is a senior consultant with the Alban Institute. A United Methodist clergyperson with 15 years of parish experience, he has extensive experience as a congregational and judicatory consultant, focusing on organizational development and systems theory. His other Alban publications include Leading Change in the Congregation (1998), Behavioral Covenants in Congregations (1999), The Multigenerational Congregation (2002), and the video resource Living into the New World (2001).

Alice Mann is a senior consultant with the Alban Institute. An Episcopal priest who has served six congregations, she is a nationally recognized consultant-trainer who has focused on growth strategies, leadership skills, strategic planning, spirituality, and congregational development. Her other Alban publications include The In-Between Church (1998), Can Our Church Live? (1999), Raising the Roof (2002), and the video resource What Size Should We Be? (2001).
Holy Conversations is not just information; it’s wisdom. Alice Mann and Gil Rendle have created a wonderful handbook that should be in every congregation’s library. Rather than developing a one-size-fits-all guide, they extend an authentic invitation for congregations to have “holy conversations”—and they provide the tools to help you. Such conversations provide a pathway toward planning that is attentive to the Spirit and a congregation’s unique calling, both internally and in the context of community.
Hal Chorpenning, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, Fort Collins, CO

This is the kind of book for which I have been waiting 25 years: a resource for those seeking leadership and planning approaches that are theologically based and congregationally oriented rather than corporate management-based. Pastors, lay leaders, and judicatory staff will find this book helpful in providing leadership for congregational development and redevelopment, mission studies, and congregations in the midst of transition. Newcomers and experienced leaders alike will find useful the authors’ distinctions between strategic and other types of planning as well as their presentation of the elements, factors, roles, and processes necessary for developing approaches appropriate to different congregations.
Virstan B. Y. Choy, general presbyter, The Presbytery of San Francisco

You have struck gold! This handbook brings together a wealth of practical tools and resources for every aspect of congregational planning. But even more important, it is a book that will lead you beyond strategic planning to a 'holy conversation' that has the potential to lead to lasting change. Rather than a one-size-fits-all planning program, you will find an approach that honors the rich and unique dynamics of your congregation. Gil and Alice write with deep wisdom about real life in real congregations, and with respect and empathy for their leaders. Today, many congregations are searching for help in understanding how to move into the future. This book will be a trusted resource for that journey.
Joanne Thomson, Associate Conference Minister, Wisconsin Conference, United Church of Christ

Resource material has been prepared by the authors, and is available through the publisher. In order to obtain this material, please contact resourcematerial@rowman.com. You will be asked to provide proof of purchase. For course adoptions, you will need to provide your course information.