USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

2020 Reimagining Church: Thriving Congregations Conversations Series

2020 Reimagining Church: Thriving Congregations Conversations Series

Conversation 1: What Opportunities Does Crisis Present to Thriving Congregations?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Our initial conversation was organized around the question, How can congregations proactively and positively face the challenges and opportunities represented by the Covid-19 pandemic? This broad theme will focus on three areas:

First, given the current Covid health crisis and the social justice consciousness that is emerging in communities around the country, churches are dealing with issues they have not had to deal with before, and pastors are, many times, under increased pressure to develop solutions to how these kinds of developments affect their congregations. But, can—or should—pastors and other leaders to seek to solve the problems that arise in times of crises? How might we adjust leadership and congregational culture to meet the challenges and opportunities we face in a crisis situation?

Second, many church leaders and members are now experiencing trauma in ways that they have never felt before. Leaders and members alike feel the pain of not meeting in person, and that the very existence of their congregational community is increasingly dependent on external factors. Thus, how can we heal from trauma and in the process become more resilient, both personally and corporately?

Finally, recent events have forced a new reality on all segments of society, the church included. While some churches are beginning to meet in person again (hopefully with appropriate Covid related precautions), much of their work has been curtailed because of the limitations imposed by our current health situation. In response, some churches are trying to figure out ways to collaborate or at least develop relationships with other churches to share knowledge and resources, while also trying to figure out new ways of being a community online.

Thus, how can we develop new, and nurture established relationships, despite current limitations? Further, how can we build these relationships into deeper collaborative efforts that will benefit all participants?

Conversation 2Social Justice and Thriving Congregations

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The recent protests and marches for civil rights, police reform and social justice inevitably implicate churches and other religious institutions. What is the relationship between seeking social justice and developing a thriving congregation? What is, or can be, the role of local congregations in the social justice movement? What should be the role of the Church in the social justice movement?

Conversation 3: Politics, Divisions, Elections and Thriving Congregations

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

We often hear that politics and religion should never be broached in polite conversation. We beg to differ, and instead, believe that both politics and religion tell us much about our personal and corporate lives. How can church leaders use the inevitable political divisions within congregations as a vehicle through which they can strengthen and develop?

The Reimagining Church Initiative is supported by a grant from The Lilly Endowment