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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Navigating the seas of congregational life

Positive use of church conflict creates space for growth

As the crew of the good ship Our Congregation plots the course of ministry together, they have high hopes for smooth sailing. The ship sails out of the docks and begins its journey of worshiping, witnessing and learning together. The seas are calm and spirits are high.

Then someone suggests a small change. What about introducing a new worship book? Or, even more dramatic, a contemporary worship service to draw in a younger crowd? Suddenly the seas begin to churn. The boat starts to rock.

Other ideas surface, such as major renovations to a sanctuary that has never been changed in its 150-year history. Someone else suggests moving the altar so the pastor can face the congregation while presiding over communion. The waves swell and begin to crash on the deck.


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