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…

Small church

Pastoral Staffing Arrangements in Small United Methodist Church Congregations

It should come as no surprise that over the past few decades Christian congregations have been shrinking in terms of their average weekly worship attendance. This is certainly true for congregations in the United Methodist Church. The median worship attendance of UMC congregations declined from 53 worshipers in 2000 to just 38 worshipers in 2019.…

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…