Congregational Life Centre
Our Story

The mission of the Congregational Life Centre is to assist congregations to be more effective in their ministry. We have chosen the eagle for our symbol, because we want congregations to soar, with all the energy and passion, all the tranquility and spirituality that eagles bring to their magnificent flight. We have seen too many churches that are happy just to trudge along, slowly declining in numbers as members lapse into deepening states of lethargy. God expects a lot more from the church than mere survival. We want congregations who are willing to risk being different, who want to serve the people in their community, who want to fly with the eagles. We want to assist congregations who take Jesus' offer of new lives for old seriously.

Our work evolved out of a five-year research project to study new church development that was funded by the United Church of Canada and housed at St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton. Clair Woodbury served as Director of the project and Joyce Madsen chaired the coordinating committee that guided the project.

We are entering the second decade of working with congregations as the Congregational Life Centre. We have developed and refined a transformation process that we have used with individual congregations as well as with a cluster of five. The tranformation process is outlined in our book Wings Like Eagles. A companion Leader's Guide outlines workshops we have found to be effective in leading a congregation through this process.

Our "Transformation Tree" ties the five basic dimensions and three support areas together in a picture that symbolizes their interdependence. The roots include People, Finances, and Structure. The trunk is the Leadership, and the branches represent Context, Identity, and Spirituality. The Vision is what the tree is growing toward and is its source of energy.

It is important to stay on the cutting edge of the congregational development field. Books, articles and the Internet are three resources we use. We also have an active research program, taking the questions people in congregations ask us and looking for answers. We have investigated the dynamics when congregations are amalgamated, and have developed a series of articles on "Congregations that Dare to be Different."

Clair Woodbury has served on the Doctor of Ministry Committee at St. Stephen’s College, and is author of five books, including 100 Ways to be the Church and The Art of Ministry. He is a graduate of Royal Military College, studied theology at Queen’s University and received his Ph.D. from Drew University in the United States.

Joyce Madsen brings a wealth of experience in business and in the church. She has held management positions in a number of computer and high-tech companies and conducted training programs across Canada. When not working with the Centre she prepares people to start their own business. Those who know Joyce well treasure her enthusiasm, energy, open personality and high level of commitment to the church.

The Congregational Life Centre is a not-for-profit registered charity. We are grateful for the many people who support our work financially and by recommending our services. Our work is guided by a dedicated Board, whose support and insights are invaluable to us.

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