Why Do We Need Congregations?

In CPR Connects by anna@convergenceus.orgLeave a Comment

By: Rev. Dr. Anna Hall

With so many issues facing our world, and such great needs facing our neighbors locally and globally, some might ask: Why should we even worry about helping congregations thrive?

It is a fair question. Congregations can be stalwart and indispensable sources of help and transformation for their communities, or they can be sites of conflict and turmoil that harms their participants. Congregations can play a vital role in connecting people in caring relationships, or they can become cliquish and internally focused. Congregations can multiply the giving and energy of their members and use it for impact in the community, or they can use up all their assets with institutional maintenance until there is nothing left. 

So why bother?

As a researcher and consultant, I firmly believe that every congregation has the potential to transform our world. In some communities, the congregations we work with are the only outposts of loving and generous values. In others, they are essential parts of a network of congregations that is lifting up those most in need. In many places, congregations are the only places where people interact across generations and political differences. Congregational spaces have been shown to benefit the surrounding community beyond their congregational life, including creating over $140,000 a year in economic value of volunteer time, space-sharing, and funding external organizations.  

Photo by Sophie Spree on Unsplash

Without congregations, many in need would lose their sources of material assistance, from food pantries to meals to housing. Advocates for a better world would lose blocks of people who can speak out for policies that could create transformation and nurture creation in our cities, states, and nation. Communities would lose dozens to hundreds of jobs and thousands to millions of dollars in social services subsidized by the congregation. Local non-profits and groups would lose affordable meeting spaces. Elections boards would have to find new voting sites. Numerous early childhood education programs would vanish. All those involved with a congregation would lose one of the few places in their lives that transcends capitalism and an emphasis on monetary value as the highest priority.

Beyond their current value, each congregation is a potential site for powerful transformation in people and communities. To make this potential into reality, congregations must be healthy, aligned, and energized. Personally, I spend hours every day getting to know congregations and discerning with them how they might find the health, alignment, and energy to transform our world. In this work, even with the most conflicted and struggling congregations, I hear stories of speaking out against book bans, standing up for LGBTQ+ folks in their local community, growing food to share with those in need, housing those living outside, and so much more. I do not believe one minute of this work is wasted. 

If you would like to know more about how we at Convergence can help your congregation cultivate transformation for those inside and outside your walls, reach out to me or Gregg Carlson.





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