Pastor preaching from the front of a church

Congregations That Thrive without Full-Time Clergy

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald From the outside, First Parish Church (United Church of Christ) in Newbury, Massachusetts, appeared to be chugging along reasonably well after 377 years of ministry. A small group of faithful souls still gathered every Sunday morning. A preschool met in the downstairs hall on weekdays. More than 40 area residents tended…

Masked pastor conversing with masked church member

Podcast Episode: “The Pandemic’s Real Impact on Clergy and Congregations” featuring Scott Thumma

How has the pandemic shaped the vitality and resiliency of congregations? Did it really prompt large numbers of pastors to leave ministry? In this episode of Leading Ideas Talks from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary, Scott Thumma shares insights from ongoing research on the pandemic’s impact on congregational life and…

Masked pastor speaking with a masked church member

The Pandemic’s Real Impact on Clergy and Congregations

This article shares highlights from an in-depth interview with Scott Thumma, available in Leading Ideas from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary.     How has the pandemic shaped the vitality and resiliency of congregations? Did it really prompt large numbers of pastors to leave ministry? Doug Powe, director of the Lewis…

Pastoral Staffing Arrangements in Small Nazarene Churches

Over the past several decades, the average weekly worship attendance of Christian congregations has been decreasing. In 1998, the median number of regular participants of Christian congregations in the United States was 80 people[1], and by 2018-19 this had dropped to 70 participants for the average congregation[2]. Smaller congregations usually have fewer financial resources and…

A small country church

The Resilient Small Church

One of the most thoughtful gestures related to my ministry occurred a few months ago. I received an email from a United Methodist district superintendent in Mississippi. Mississippi is where I was first a pastor in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. Her message was, “Today I am sitting around the Cabinet table, and we…

Previous Research by the Lewis Center Related to Religious Workforce

Several research projects by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership paved the way for the current Religious Workforce Project. Most of these involved the United Methodist Church, the denomination with which Wesley Theological Seminary is affiliated. Transition from Seminary. Building on the initial findings from the Center’s clergy age research, it became clear that the…