The Future of Congregations II
When: June 8, 2023, 9:00 am - Thursday
The Future of Congregations II is the second of two unique sessions from the Congregational Science Section. This session explores implications and various considerations of repairing distressed elderships, embodied theology applied to sexual abuse, and addressing human resource issues in congregations. Borrowing from emotionally focused therapy, human resources literature, and embodied theory frameworks, these presentations provide participants with a vision of the future of congregations by highlighting challenging information, relevant insights, and practical ways to address these issues that impact many congregations.
Sara Salkil, Abilene Christian University, “The Process of Repair in a Distressed Eldership: An Emotionally Focused Approach”
The theoretical premise of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) can provide a helpful framework for congregational leadership teams in distress. A hypothetical case scenario involves an eldership grappling with difficult decisions about doctrine. The weighty decisions have left the leadership team fractured and polarized. The presentation will include a brief explanation of the underlying concepts of attachment theory, a discussion of the consultant’s role in assisting the elders in repairing relational distress, and an explanation of the interventions used to elicit change.
Sumer Bingham Musick, University of Pikeville, “Embodies Theology and Sexual Abuse: Implications for Ritual, Language, and Community”
One in four women will experience sexual violence before the age of eighteen. This violating touch can be everlasting, altering the way a survivor understands their self, God, and the world. The church has a duty to learn, reflect, and respond. A brief discussion of the statistics and context will be provided. Utilizing and embodied methodology we will then consider how God is made known through the sexually abused body. What can these bodies teach the Church about God? What is the future of religious ritual, language, and community in light of this wisdom?
Ben Postlewaite, Regan Schaffer, and Christopher Collins, Pepperdine University, “Human Resource Practices in American Churches”
In a majority of smaller churches there are no human resources staff and church elders, executive pastors or those in similar roles are tasked with functioning as HR managers. As a result, the way human resources are managed may impede the mission of the congregation or contribute to people leaving ministry altogether. Our multi-phase study seeks to examine HR practices across protestant congregations and ultimately compare those practices to other organizations. We will use this session to describe our program of research and present the first phase of our results.
Marsha Vaughn, Adler University, “Toward A Trauma-informed Congregation”
With heightened attention to instances of exploitation from religious leaders and failures to protect those who have been harmed, spiritual/religious abuse and trauma have emerged as unique phenomena of study. Spiritual/religious abuse has overlapping elements with intimate partner violence, meaning those who have experienced this trauma often navigate a complicated relationship with their home church and family. This paper will propose a model for providing support and spiritual care to those who have experienced religious abuse that is informed by principles of trauma-informed care and family systems theory.
Chris J. Gonzalez, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Sara Salkil, Abilene Christian University, “The Process of Repair in a Distressed Eldership: An Emotionally Focused Approach”
- Sumer Bingham Musick, University of Pikeville, “Embodies Theology and Sexual Abuse: Implications for Ritual, Language, and Community”
- Ben Postlewaite, Regan Schaffer, and Christopher S. Collins, Pepperdine University, “Human Resource Practices in American Churches”
- Marsha Vaughn, Adler University, “Toward A Trauma-informed Congregation”