So, why all of this emphasis on collaborative learning? And, why should those of us who have been let down by “group” work try it now? Here are 6 compelling reasons for churches to consider peer learning groups.

August 25, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

Does your church leadership need help in the discerning process for the future of the church? If so, a Ministry Leaders Retreat guide is available.

May 12, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

If your church decides it is time to close the church, a practical step-by-step process guide is available to assist you in ending well.

May 11, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I will state it directly: We do not have enough emotional or relational maturity in our congregations and in our leadership. Irritations rub and rub until there is smoke and eventually full heated conflict.

May 9, 2015 0 0 comments

Attitudes need monitoring, as does atmosphere. A detector for real smoke checks the atmosphere for clarity at regular intervals and if needed, sounds an alert. How is this done in churches?

May 4, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

“Do we have a future or have we come to the end of ministry as we know it now?” For many churches, this is a hard question to ask and to answer.

April 24, 2015 0 2 comments

Note: this is a fuller explanation of a bullet point in another blog post, which you can read here.

Grating or Cross-wired Expectations summary explanation

In the ash-heap, there is very very often evidence indicating a problem with expectations. Most often, unstated expectations...

April 23, 2015 0 0 comments

Fire alarms in homes detect indicators of a pending problem and sound a warning. Could we develop something equivalent for churches? What would such a detector sniff for?

April 23, 2015 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

"Hard" or "conflicted" partings of ways between pastors and congregations are steeply on the rise. So my question is, are there measurable pre-indicators of a potential "fire" in a congregation?

April 10, 2015 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Your church is declining.  You feel you might be close to closing your doors.  What now?

April 6, 2015 0 2 comments

What can a coach bring to a classis and its congregations? This blog describes the role of a coach for congregational health and mission in Classis Central Plains.

May 2, 2014 0 3 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 11/13/2013 The journey of congregational renewal is like the ancient journey of the Hebrews: there are river crossings and rebellions, mountains and wilderness. What does this all look like at the congregational level, and what should leaders, including pastors, expect?

November 13, 2013 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 03/21/2012 In this webinar we'll visit an old metaphor to help us understand the elements necessary for healthy and lasting renewal.

March 21, 2012 0 0 comments

Dear Bert,

You can find both documents at


Sorry for the inconvenience.  If you have any questions, please contact me at

Thank you.


So where can I find the two documents, 'Ending Well' and "A discernment process...'?

Hi Art,

Yes, it is possible for a church to close its doors for the purpose of reaching its neighborhood and city.  Your vision and passion for kingdom expansion and reaching the lost is quite evident in your remarks.  We praise God for that.

Stay tuned for another post regarding A Church in Transition?  Thanks for your comment.



 I've been helped by writers like Edwin Friedman and Peter Steinke to properly appreciate just how much the congregation is an emotional system. One factor that they mention is that a highly anxious system breeds secrecy-- secret unofficial meetings about an issue may initially have good intentions behind them but  almost always lead to  negative reactions. If it needs to be discussed it needs to be discussed above board and this transparency has to be pushed as a congregational value.

posted in: Found in the Ashes

Further note: I plan to take any comments and combine them with my own thoughts and post a compilation in about a month.

It is possible that a church that is closing it's doors might not be declining but rather thriving. Thriving, because they have closed the doors and left the building so they can be the church in their neighborhood and their city.  It would be most enjoyable to coach a church that is committed to be the presence of Jesus outside their doors.

Thank you Louis and Karl for your affirmation of this work. I recently heard an elderly sage in the area of church health say something like this. "Increasingly most all of the challenges which congregations face are adaptive challenges (the nature of the challenge and the solution is not fully clear). Meanwhile the answers touted are still by-and-large tactical solutions (plug and play). Technical solutions rarely succeed at adequately addressing adaptive challenges. We need to look for adaptive solutions to the adaptive challenges congregations face." May we all tilt our heads and perk our ears more to sense the direction the wind of the Spirit is blowing!

I love this "try stuff together and learn as we go" approach.   Being intentional, and purposeful, and prayerful, about our continuing effort to be Jesus' body is rarely about following a package or kit.  It's about lively interaction, dialog, experimentation and evaluation, and learning to delight in listening for and following the Spirit.  Thanks to you, Mike, for your help with congregational health and renewal!


Louis Tamminga

Thank you, Norman, for these helpful lines! You have entered upon a strategic ministry. You did it with vision and trust. Our prayers accompany you and your fellow-workers.

Many church leaders across the denomination realize that your challenge is theirs.

The 2014 Yearbook that appeared just a few weeks ago reports that the total number of members of the CRC stands at 245.217.

The Yearbook of 2013 reported hat figure to stand at 248.258.

The reduction was a significant 3.041.

But we look at all figures in the light of the Gospel, its challenges, and its power. Keep writing, Norm.

May 3, 2014


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Marc Hoogstad