}

Melissa Spas

Contributor

Melissa Spas is the managing director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, where she develops and leads educational programs and partnerships with religious organizations and the people who lead them. She has also worked for leadership education at Duke Divinity, where she contributed to the development, design, and delivery of strategic leadership programs and resources for Christian institutions. 

Contributions From Melissa Spas

article
Connect Community Service and Corporate Worship
Published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, this article discusses the challenge of integrating public ministries of the church with the weekly rhythm of worship.
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Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission
This resource offers congregations various ways to reflect upon and reconsider how they approach others, presenting friendship and relationship building as a new model for service.
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Congregational Tool Box for Prison Ministry
This article addresses reasons for congregations to become involved with outreach to prisoners from a perspective of restorative justice.
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Insights Into: The Compassionate Congregation
This article provides concrete suggestions for congregations seeking to become more involved in social outreach.
web resource
Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish
On this site, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides a wide variety of resources for implementing the social teaching of the church within the life of the local parish by helping parishes "find resources about living as communities of salt and light".
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Disrupting Homelessness: Alternative Christian Approaches
This book looks at the structural causes of homelessness, examining the two common Christian responses and offering an alternative solution for a more compassionate society.
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The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community
This resource identifies the church as a solution to cultural individualism, arguing that congregations which focus outwards can play a larger role in the community.
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Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus
This video details the story of how one congregation in Ohio has grown into a vital ministry with and for working class people.
web resource
Publicly Engaged Church for Justice and Peace
This ELCA resource hub offers community organizing and advocacy tools for congregations.
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The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door
This compelling book discusses what it might be like if we actually loved our neighbors, as stated by The Great Commandment, and why we are often uncomfortable with the prospect of doing so.
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Becoming A Justice Seeking Congregation: Responding to God's Justice Initiative
This book approaches social justice work with a balance of idealism and realism.
organization
Lott Carey
This organization offers leadership development and educational resources focused on learning about a variety of social issues such as homelessness, human trafficking, and disaster response.
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Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing
This book explores community organizing at the congregational level, providing theological insight and practical strategies to achieve justice.
web resource
Groundswell
Groundswell, a project of Auburn Theological Seminary, is an online community that provides digital tools and training for people of faith to mobilize and advocate using social media and the resources of the web.
event
Dawnings: Welcoming a New Day In Your Church's Missional Journey
This retreat offers spaces for reflection and focus on visioning, forming, and engaging in the question of how public ministry might be a part of the future for a congregation's life together.
web resource
Reconciliation Ministry
The Reconciliation Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is an acknowledgment of the division and misshapen self-understanding that racism has caused within the church. It is a resource to congregations that are seeking to build just communities and work toward unity and reconciliation.
book
Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners
Based on a qualitative study of American congregations and their varied partnerships, this resource offers a comprehensive picture on the ways congregations leverage the strength of partnership to fulfill their missions.
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Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World
This resource shares the story of how one church in Florida was able to grow into a multi-site, multi-ethnic ministry through engagement and accountable leadership.
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Celebrating the Offering
Aimed at congregations seeking to make giving a central and joyful part of worship, this resource addresses generosity and stewardship in the Bible along with practices for celebrating the offering.
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Christians in an Age of Wealth: A Biblical Theology of Stewardship
Part of a series, this resource offers an evangelical theological framework for understanding Christian approaches to wealth, stewardship, and responsibility.
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Center for Stewardship Leaders
This website includes Luther Seminary’ s extensive online database of stewardship resources.
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Christian Stewardship Network
This organization aims to connect stewardship pastors and congregational leaders through an annual three-day training workshop, online resources, white papers, and training resources.
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Church Growth Services
This consultant group assists congregations with fundraising and capital campaigns, with emphasis on pre-capital campaign studies. They also offer guidance in building renovations and debt reduction.
web resource
empty tomb, inc.
This organization provides strategies for congregations to raise funds for missions. It shares data about need around the world and a research-based report “The State of Church Giving.”
book
We Make a Life By What We Give
This collection of essays offers a distinctive approach to generosity through reflections from a variety of perspectives.
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Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity
This personal finance book addresses generosity and faithful stewardship by beginning with personal finance and faith.
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The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes
This resource proposes ways to grow and develop in ministry that are shaped by the gospel and the life of the church, rather than reflect modern culture and values.
organization
Horizons Stewardship Company
This fundraising company offers a range of strategic ministry and stewardship planning services, such as annual giving campaigns, building and capital campaigns, major gifts, and grant writing.
book
Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work
This book provides the nuts-and-bolts of creating a capital campaign, covering everything from brainstorming ideas and timelines to execution.
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Crafting a Theology of Stewardship
This e-book offers a readable theological reflection on stewardship for small groups or congregational leaders.
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Stewardship Services
This resource contains helpful tools for congregations to integrate stewardship themes across the worshipping year.
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The Stewardship Companion: Lectionary Resources for Preaching
Designed for use as a reference, this book provides lectionary resources tied to stewardship for the purpose of rich worship and preaching.
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A Spirituality of Fundraising
This timeless book frames fundraising as a ministry of spiritual deepening, encouraging leaders to identify the value of ministry and confidently seek financial resources.
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Transforming Stewardship
This resource analyzes the strengths and shortcomings of traditional stewardship patterns to propose a new model to join the church with God's movement in the world.
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Stewardship for Vital Congregations
This resource connects purpose and vision with stewardship towards the goal of a thriving ministry for the future.
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The Steward Leader: Transforming People, Organizations and Communities
This resource provides a way for leaders to see everything they do as a stewardship of God's resources.
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Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God's Invitation to Grow
This theological guide provides a positive framework through which to view church stewardship, and focuses on the three essential questions congregations should ask.
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Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good
This book pushes the theological conversation about calling and work to a new level, focusing on how to change the pace and pattern where you live.
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More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity
This lifestyle guide explores the themes of excess and generosity present in daily habits, and how paring down can lead to a more fulfilling life.
web resource
Stewardship Ministry
Offering a variety of studies, interactive lessons, and content for worship, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod’ s Stewardship Ministry website is a good foundation for stewardship education and fundraising within the LC-MS.
web resource
Equipping Leaders: Stewardship
This webpage for stewardship resources offers a steady flow of new reflections, articles, and worship resources.
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Stewardship Resources
The Church of the Nazarene provides a variety of resources for congregational stewardship activities.
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Life Stewardship
This web resource provided by The Evangelical Covenant Church takes a comprehensive approach to stewardship, providing resources on church finances, an eight-session bible study, and a variety of resources themed around creation care.
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Catholics Come Home
This website provides resources for parishes or diocesan groups concerned with outreach to "lapsed Catholics" and those without a church home.
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ChristLife: Catholic Ministry for Evangelization
The ChristLife website provides a curriculum for evangelism training, seeking to equip and prepare Catholics to reach out from their parishes to bring in new members, including those of no faith, as well as baptized Catholics who may have little experience practicing the faith.
web resource
Evangelism Connections
Available online or via email, this newsletter is for congregations interested in cultivating a greater sense of evangelical identity.
book
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church
This book reflects on what it means to belong, leave, and rediscover the church, particularly for millennials. By drawing insight from the author's personal story in addition to others, this resource addresses topics like communion, baptism, and marriage.
book
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
This book examines the complex relationship between culture, identity, belonging, and the role of Christians. Ultimately, this book will help congregations consider how they interact in the wider world they inhabit.
article
"Nones" on the Rise
This research report on the religiously unaffiliated offers a measured view of what's changed, what hasn't, along with context and theories to help congregations make sense of what the trends signify.
book
The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation
Written from an evangelical perspective, this book outlines the results of a large-scale survey of millennials, offering an interpretation of its findings and outlining recommendations for congregations seeking to reach this generation.
periodical
RELEVANT Magazine
Since 2002, RELEVANT Media Group has published RELEVANT magazine, intended to speak to Christians in their 20s and 30s about how God is relevant to every aspect of culture.
web resource
Meet the Nones: We Don't Need Your Labels
This web resource provides a series of thoughtful articles on different facets of life among religiously unaffiliated Americans and gives an accessible glimpse of the diversity, sophistication, and perspective of “nones” . Sojourners has compiled perspectives from atheists, unaffiliated ethnic Jews, political strategists, and sociologists in order to better illustrate the perspective of Americans without a religious affiliation or identity.
book
The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated
This book seeks to understand and to reach the religiously unaffiliated, relying on scripture to contextualize the rise of this particular demographic while offering suggestions for churches to follow.
article
Hispanic-Anglo Churches Blend Cultures and Languages
Culture change can be influenced by external, as well as internal factors, and for many urban congregations, changes in the demographics of the surrounding community have prompted change. The growth of Latino-American communities and an increase in Spanish-speaking populations has prompted many Anglo congregations to reach out to new neighbors and offer ministries addressing the needs of new immigrants and providing Spanish-language worship and programming. This article by United Methodist journalist and storyteller Sandra Brands details the particulars of a number of congregations of different sizes and styles, and also addresses the ways in which predominantly Hispanic or Latino congregations have in turn created specific English-language ministries to meet the needs of diverse bilingual and multi-generational communities. The examples in this article offer a positive view to the potential for integrating existing (primarily Anglo) congregations with the new (primarily Spanish-speaking) worshipping communities that they have helped to nurture. Congregational cultural change is not likely to be formulaic or linear, and these examples help to show the power and blessing in that complexity.
book
Promise and Peril: Understanding and Managing Change and Conflict in Congregations
This research-based book helps congregations understand the origins and impact of change within their community, emphasizing organizational theory, and contains suggestions on how to address change.
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The Little Book of Healthy Organizations: Tools for Understanding and Transforming Your Organization
This concise book offers advice and real-life examples of practical ways to improve leadership in a well-established culture.
event
C3 Conference
The Creative Church Culture Conference offers a network of evangelical resources for contemporary worship, including conference sessions on church culture and worship, as well as online resources.
organization
Church Innovations Institute
This organization provides consulting focused on questions of church culture. Their consultations include processes for spiritual discernment, leadership development, reports on the current state of the congregation, and recommendations for change.
book
Leading Missional Change: Move Your Congregation from Resistant to Re-Energized
This book provides insight on why congregations don't want to change, how to utilize trust to move forward, and strategies for culture change.
article
Love God, Love Your Neighbor
This article describes the story of Calvary Baptist Church in D.C., which implemented new ministries and partnerships to rise from decline.
book
Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe
This memoir recounts one millennial feminist's approach to life in the Christian community and her struggle to find a sense of belonging, touching on universal themes like the importance of showing up, vulnerability, and illusions in community.
book
Look Before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture
This book helps congregations lead cultural change by providing an overview, practical assessments and leadership strategies to shape culture.
media
Racial Diversity in a Changing Harlem Congregation
This video by PBS details the changes and growth of First Corinthian Church in Harlem, New York.
book
Journey in the Wilderness: New Life for Mainline Churches
Written by an experienced consultant with the Texas Methodist Foundation, this resource offers congregations a way to create positive change towards missional transformation.
book
Transforming Congregational Culture
This resource draws a connection between changes in American culture and congregational change, arguing that congregations must adapt in order to engage with contemporary audiences.
article
The Acts of the Apostles and Thriving Communities
This series of articles focuses on six different features of community life in Acts and how these might influence congregations today as they seek to thrive.
book
Structured for Mission: Renewing the Culture of the Church
This book argues that the American church is unraveling, and thus, provides congregations with the necessary tools to address change by building new culture and adapting a new leadership model.
event
Creating a Culture of Renewal
This series of education events hosted by Rebekah Simon-Peter equips participants to lead congregational change.
book
Vision: Lost and Found: The Story of a Church That Got Stuck but Didn't Stay There
Based off the experiences of megachurch Granger Community Church, this book details its journey from a start-up church with tremendous growth to a period of organizational struggle. This book equips readers with the same tools and processes Granger used to shift internal culture.
article
Church of Many Colors
This article details the story of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and describes how it adapted to an increasingly diverse neighborhood.
book
Changes Congregations Are Facing Today
This e-book uses research and observation to provide readers with information regarding a variety of changes congregations face, ranging from worship attendance to finances, mission, and staffing.
book
Change and Conflict in Your Congregation (Even If You Hate Both): How to Implement Conscious Choices, Manage Emotions and Build a Thriving Christian Community
This book frames conflict as a tool to move congregations forward if used positively. In this resource, conflict can spark changes that will allow your congregation to tell a new story about its identity, purpose, and future.
web resource
Social Justice & the Union for Reform Judaism
This web resource provided by The Union for Reformed Judaism has compiled a variety of resources for congregational work on social justice, including worship materials, texts, blessings, and resources on particular topics and for community organizing.
article
Evangelism Sunday Cultural Resources
This article looks at the unique challenges and opportunities in the African American faith community regarding questions of evangelism and outreach.
article
How to Shape Your Church's Culture
This article from LifeWay provides an introduction to understanding what defines church culture.
organization
GraceNet, Inc.
This organization provides coaching, consulting, and online resources in the areas of spiritual leadership, pastoral development, congregational revitalization, and evangelism.
organization
Jewish Social Justice Roundtable
This coalition of organizations offers campaigns and learning opportunities for congregations committed to embracing the values of Jewish life and advancing social justice issues within a broader society.
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New Visions Initiative: A Blueprint for a Vibrant Congregation
This organization provides resources and guidance for historically African American Episcopal congregations focusing on renewal, a vision for the future, and creative culture change.
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Presbyterian Foundation
This foundation offers support for congregations around all types of stewardship, including investments, planned giving, capital campaigns, and congregations in transition.
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Sojourners
These thought leaders advocate for faith-based social justice. They create thought-provoking content for congregations to engage in evolving social justice issues.
organization
The Episcopal Network for Stewardship
This organization provides congregations with resources focused on stewardship, including annual giving, capital campaigns, designated giving, and more.
article
The Non-Attending Faithful
This article looks at the practice of young people "attending to what matters" without attending church, affirming the life of faith away from institutions while expressing hope for the future.
article
Why Changing Your Church's Culture Rarely Works Out
This article reveals the pitfalls and errors that can be made when considering culture change in a congregational setting.
web resource
How to Change the Culture of a Church
This web resource provides an article written by Baptist pastor, writer and cartoonist Joe McKeever, as a way to provide several examples of the ways that cliquish, embattled or xenophobic congregations can begin to approach a shift in culture.
web resource
Advocate for Justice
The Advocate for Justice page of the website of the United Church of Christ brings together a wide variety of resources for congregations that share their vision for "…a more just, peaceful and compassionate world that honors all of God's creation." Their program, {{Justice Leaders Engaging and Developing (Justice LED) | http://www.ucc.org/justice/training/}}, offers tangible support to congregations seeking to move toward that vision. They have a downloadable Planning Guide, as well as a webinar series available on this webpage, and also offer, through this page, online resources tied to the UCC Center for Environmental Justice, the Economic Justice Covenant Program, the environmentally-focused Green Justice Congregations Program, and information about the Just Peace Church vision. This web resource is good for congregations seeking to engage in educational, action, and advocacy activities on a variety of issues.
article
Thirsty Evangelism
Many congregation members find themselves uncomfortable with heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all approaches to sharing the gospel and extending an invitation to church. However, outreach and evangelism can be approached differently, with great results. Through this article, Presbyterian pastor and evangelism consultant Chris Walker describes a prayerful approach to evangelism that depends on personal connections and listening for a spiritual thirst before taking the next step in outreach. He proposes that by being attuned to hearing another person speaking about their spiritual yearning, individuals can find a more natural timing for introducing the good news and an invitation to connect. The practical advice provided in this article can also be supplemented with other resources from the author's website, {{EvangelismCoach.org | http://www.evangelismcoach.org/}}, including additional articles, training materials available for purchase, and online workshops.
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