Center for Congregational Resources
The Center is pleased to announce it has received a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to develop a plan to help congregations and their participants discover and claim their Christian callings.
The Center will broaden its mission to help churches better respond to those in their congregations facing career transitions and to help their young people explore their callings and pursue forms of work and community life that help them live with joy and purpose.
To accomplish this, the Center will develop an "innovation hub" that will recruit and resource 24 congregations from a variety of denominations to design or strengthen ministries that help members explore and express their callings. Sixteen congregations will be a part of the first group of learning communities. These congregations will be organized into four peer learning groups, each representing a particular faith tradition. These groups are intended to create an environment for sharing common resources on Scripture, faith tradition and liturgy. They will also learn to identify and interpret individual and corporate calling and giftedness. The concept of calling applies to both individuals as well as congregations. What might be a congregation’s calling? What resources could be used by each to explore this important question?
These congregations will also be eligible to receive grant funding for use in support of their work and to implement initiatives they develop for use with their congregations.
Helping Chart a Course to Thriving Ministry
Samford University’s Center for Congregational Resources exists to come alongside communities of faith and their leaders, helping them chart a course to thriving ministry. The Center began in 2003, as part of Lilly Endowment’s nationwide Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative. At that time, the Center’s mission was primarily focused on clergy renewal and continuing education. Now the Center also provides services and resources designed to help congregations. The Center's current name was chosen to reflect the expanded scope of services provided.
You may be a busy pastor looking for opportunities for renewal and continuing education. You may be a parishioner leading a planning committee and you don't know where to begin. The Center for Congregational Resources is here to help. We can be your partner on the journey, helping you chart a course toward your God-given vision for mission and ministry. Please reference our informational brochure for more details on the programs available.
We recognize that clergy and congregations possess the creativity and ingenuity needed to address their challenges, opportunities, and possibilities. We believe such creativity and ingenuity are more readily activated with help from an outside resource person. The Center provides trained Resource Strategists and Pastoral Consultants who come alongside clergy and/or congregational leaders to facilitate a process of discovery and learning. Center staff maintain a catalogue of proven resources well-suited for the needs or opportunities these strategists discover. This information is provided to the congregational leaders for their use while working to achieve solutions.
The Center’s goal is to maintain a working relationship with participating clergy and/or congregations over a period of time, offering further assistance when needed as they exercise their own initiative.
We ask questions and listen.
Our Resource Strategists, though well-trained and experienced ministers, do not function as experts, making pronouncements or offering a “fix” for the congregation. We don’t have all the answers. We listen to clergy and congregations and help them ask the right questions. Our goal is to assist as they articulate more clearly what they are thinking, which results in deeper understanding and clarity about actions they need to undertake.
We reverse the initiative.
We do not come into a conversation with pre-determined solutions. Rather we rely on the gifts within an existing congregation to be called forth as they work to discover paths they need to take. Our role is to walk alongside and encourage this journey of discovery. When potential answers are uncovered, we help clergy and congregational leaders act on the challenges and opportunities they identify as priority and assist as they exercise their own initiative for the work that needs to be done.
We help slow things down.
We recognize some challenges are acute and need an immediate response. However, in most situations, congregations benefit from a slow-down of the decision making process. This allows time for greater intentionality in decision making that comes as a result of reflection, assessment, and strategizing.
We build relationships.
We believe that engaging outside support can often result in frustration because of the typically short-term nature of such an arrangement. Our goal is to be an interested and engaged partner with clergy and congregations, providing encouragement, support, and resources over an extended period of time.
We learn from one another.
The Center offers a clearing house of knowledge and experience. In addition to Resource Strategists and Pastoral Consultants, annotated bibliographies of proven resources are available in both print and online versions. Based on feedback from relationships with numerous congregations and clergy persons, this valuable resource is regularly updated and made available to all clergy and congregations.
What We Do+
The core mission of the Center for Congregational Resources (CCR) is to come alongside communities of faith and their leaders helping them chart a course toward fulfilling their God-given vision.
We fulfill this mission by helping them identify and understand their challenges, opportunities, and possibilities. We then work in partnership with them to find, obtain, and use the best resources available as they respond to their self-identified needs. We define a resource as anything that assists our clients to discover a path to answering the questions they have. These resources may be printed materials, online and digital media, or a strategist who walks alongside a congregation during this discovery process.
Some examples of the services we offer are:
The Center works directly with clergy, staff, and congregational leaders as they clarify their unique challenges and opportunities. We help them find resources well-suited to address their needs.
The Center provides conferences on topics of interest among groups of clergy and/or congregations. When we observe several congregations experiencing similar challenges or opportunities, we provide ways for these churches to learn from each other. We also help create networks of clergy and congregations for the purpose of peer learning and support.
Resource Clearing House
The Center maintains current guides of vetted resources covering a variety of day-to-day congregational concerns and needs. These resource guides are available online and in print format.
Small grants are available to help congregations purchase resources they need to address the challenges or opportunities they identify through the discovery process. Grants also support clergy who desire time away from the ministerial role for purposes of Sabbath renewal or study.