USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Resources for Thriving Congregation

Resources for Thriving Congregation

The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture brings faith leaders together to reimagine the possibilities for creating thriving congregations both in how they provide deep meaning and community for their members, and in developing programming and presence in their host communities. Below are a list of past events with resources (including books, tools, organizations) from those events.

2022: Reimagine Again: Ministry Sustainability in a Post-Pandemic World

This half-day conference provided time for Los Angeles-area clergy, staff and lay leaders to reflect and connect after a difficult few years. Faith leaders had the opportunity to think about how to develop innovative ministries through engagement, relationship-building and partnership and how to improve and sustain ministries in a rapidly changing world.

Key Lessons from the conference – Read a summary of key points shared by panelists

Programs, Services and Models of Engagement – Watch video introductions from 10 participants who have resources that faith leaders can learn from, then connect.


2021 Conversations on Thriving Congregations

Election Dissection: Understanding Faith and Politics in the 2020 Presidential Election

What does exit polling data reveal about our understanding of faith and politics in the US today? Experts reflect on lessons on the 2020 election

Watch the program and find links to speakers

The Realities of Good Intentions

What must congregations consider when developing an outward-facing ministry or program?

Watch the program and find links to speakers

Technology, Innovation, and Thriving Congregations: Changing our Mindset

What effect does this introduction of technology have on the life and culture of the local congregation?

Watch the program and find links to the speakers

Additional reading: 

Campbell, Heidi A; Shepherd, Troy (2021). What Should Post-Pandemic Religion Look Like?. Texas: Digital Religion Publishing & OakTrust-TAMU Libraries. Available electronically from /1969.1/192408.

Campbell, HA (2020) Digital Ecclesiology: A Global Conversation. Texas: Digital Religion Publishing & OakTrust-TAMU Libraries. Available electronically from

Campbell, HA (2020) Religion in Quarantine: The Future of Religion in a Post-Pandemic World. Texas: Digital Religion Publishing & OakTrust-TAMU Libraries. Available electronically from

Campbell, HA (2020) The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online. Texas: Digital Religion Publishing & OakTrust-TAMU Libraries. Available electronically from

2020 Conversations on Thriving Congregations

What opportunities does crisis present to thriving congregations?

How can congregations proactively and positively face the challenges and opportunities represented by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Watch the program and find links to the speakers

Watch individual segments:

Adaptive Leadership: Watch Professor Quentin P. Kinnison’s presentation

Healing in the Face of Trauma: Watch Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis’ presentation

Building Relationships in Digital Spaces: Watch Amanda Quraishi’s presentation

Creating Thriving Congregations: Watch Eric Marsh’s presentation


Click here for the topline notes from breakout groups discussion.

Social Justice and Thriving Congregations

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?

Watch the program and find links to the speakers

Politics, Division, Elections and Thriving Congregations

How can church leaders use the inevitable political divisions within congregations as a vehicle through which they can strengthen and develop?

Watch the program and find links to the speakers

An example of having conversations across differences by the Minnesota Council of Churches: Respectful Conversations

Additional reading: 

Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States by Assoc. Prof. Andrew Whitehead

At Home in Exile: Finding Jesus among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors by Prof. Russell M. Jeung

Growing Up in America: The Power of Race in the Lives of Teens by Brad Christerson, Korie Edwards and Richard Flory

  • This book will help with understanding the importance of race in how young people are tracked into different kinds of opportunities in their lives.

New Monasticism and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism by Wes Markofski

  • This book describes how some younger evangelicals are expressing their evangelical commitments in more progressive ways than their parents.

Back Pocket God: Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Emerging Adults by Richard Flory and Melinda Lundquist Denton

  • This book explores the role of religion and spirituality among young adults and raises important questions about the nature of the future of religion and religious institutions in the U.S.