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July 23, 2012 / Richard Bass

Resources and Comments in Response to “How Your Congregation Learns”

How Your Congregation Learns” (the July 23, 2012 Alban Weekly) outlines a learning framework that can enable congregations, and their leaders, to develop new ways of thinking and acting.

The elements of this framework, says author Tim Shapiro, include the following seven activities: (1) finding and using outside resources; (2) acting from a theologically coherent worldview; (3) asking open-ended questions that promote active listening; (4) engaging both clergy and laity in learning together; (5) attending to rites of passage; (6) thoughtfully “slowing things down” rather than rushing to action; and (7) saying “no” to activities that matter less, even as new, more important initiatives are adopted.

Shapiro asserts that employing this framework fortifies “strengths already present in a congregation while also enhancing the congregation’s relationship to its mission.”

What resources might help you and your congregation to develop this learning framework? In addition to the items listed at the end of the article, please consider The Lost Art of Listening; Addicted to Hurry: Spiritual Strategies for Slowing Down; and Paying Attention: Focusing Your Congregation on What Matters.

What are your stories and thoughts on this topic? And what resources do you suggest? We look forward to hearing from you.

One Comment

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  1. John Littleton / Aug 1 2012 3:50 am

    Thank you Tim for the seven elements that The Center has observed in the learning framework of a congregation that learns. Your observations confirm my understanding of the congregation as a learning community with ‘congregational learning’ as a key aspect. Information about my writing on ‘congregational learning’ and publications on leading learning in congregations is available on my website All the best in assisting leaders to ‘know how their congregation learns’. Equipping parish clergy and local leaders to be intentional in the ways of congregational learning is an ongoing and urgent task for the church. The seven learning behaviours you list will be very helpful in promoting this discussion in Australia too. Thank you. Best wishes, John.

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