Academic Programs 

 The Best Laid Plans: Organizational Development for Faith Communities  (AM-616)
Summer 2005

The best long-range plans for your faith community will not yield the desired results unless they are aligned with the hopes, dreams and aspirations of your members.  This course teaches a process for “visioning” and for developing organizational values, operational procedures and feedback so that a religious community's identity and program are aligned with those of its constituents.  Resource persons (all of whom are recognized planning and marketing experts in New England) will partner with the course instructor in teaching class members the marketing and communication skills essential for communicating consistent messages to both internal and external audiences.  Each class participant will develop a written communications strategy for specific application in her/his own faith community.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, June 6 - Friday, June 10 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Ronald Lundeen
Faculty Associate in Practical Theology 

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

Creating the Church of the Future: Organizing and Planning for Tomorrow

Organizational development models used today in congregations and religious organizations reflect the mainline church and a religion of yesterday. Membership in most denominations remains on a plateau or in decline, and governance and organizational development are so far off the mark that they'll never make any difference.

This course emphasizes integrity of membership ("constituents" for religious organizations) because you can't plan much with a congregation of uncommitted souls; stressing the importance of charitable giving in good measure because you can't plan much when half the congregation gives less than $10 per week; how to create courageous leaders rather than caretakers; and how to change the ground rules from people who believe they should be ministered to, to a culture of people becoming lay ministers.

Resources from Kotter, Durall and other contemporary planners will motivate conversations about creating a community of compassion at the top of any strategic planning process. Guest leaders from various religious traditions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) in planning for churches will be guests in class every day; students will be encouraged to develop deliverables for their particular ministry. Attendees and guests will be committed to becoming resources for each other subsequent to the classroom experience.

Michael Durall, Mark Dollhopf and Amy Robinson, all experts in planning and deliverables for faith-based communities, will individually address the class.

This course is open to members of the public on a space-available basis. It carries three graduate level credits or may be audited. Students taking courses for credit will be given preference in registration.

Required Readings

Leading Change   John P. Kotter; Harvard Business School Press, 1996

Catching the Next Wave, Leadership Strategies for Turn-Around Congregations, by Steven Goodwin, Augsburg Press, 1999

Leading Congregational Change by Herrington, Bonem and Furr; Jossey-Bass, 200 

Prepare your Church for the Future  by  Carl F. George;  Baker Publishing Group, 1991

Beyond the Collection Plate    by Michael Durall; Abington Press, 2003

Other Suggested Readings:  

The Passionate Church, by Walt Kallestad and Mike Breen

Images of Organization, by Garth Morgan

Leadership and the New Science, by Margaret Wheatley

Methods of Delivery:

  1. Reading and reflection
  2. Lectures/ Instructor’s presentations and stories
  3. Guest presentations
  4. Student sharing/discussion

Method of Assessment:

  1. Student evaluations
  2. Optional paper (4-6 pages; reflections, discovery)
  3. Instructor’s evaluation

Pre-Course Requirements:

Read Leading Change by John P. Kotter and come to class prepared to lead/participate discussions and specific applications for your particular ministry.  Commit to memory the key elements of Kotter’s “Eight-Stage” process.

Be prepared, on the first day of class, to share specific vision, mission and tactical planning opportunities in your ministry.


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500