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Congregational Development Resources

The following Church Development Discussion Papers and other Resources present independent ideas, observations, and guidelines intended to encourage discussion and comment among church leaders in local congregations and in the Presbyteries.

The papers and resources cover a wide range of topics including:


Discussion Papers

Affiliates - There's Work to be Done  -  Meeting and responding to people who call the United Church their church home.

User-Friendly Worship  -  What are our words and rituals saying to newcomers?

In Praise of the Rhythm Method   -  Do the songs we sing and the music we play "soothe the soul"?

Facing the Challenge of Inclusive Worship  -  Welcoming people with significant developmental and other challenges.

Interaction with People with Disabilities  -  Tips on communicating a welcome to people with a disability. 

Parking Angel  -  What happens outside your building can make lasting impressions.

Welcoming Strangers  -  Being sensitive to and effective with visitors and strangers.

Stepping Outside Your Cultural Niche  -  Bring cultures together can be a complex and demanding task.

Keeping People Long-Term - Small Group Ministries  -  Why a small group ministry is important in welcoming and retaining people.

Guide for Small Group Ministry  -  Providing structure and support to personal growth opportunities.

Clarity or Clutter  -  How we care for our church home tells the tale.


NEW   Become a More Welcoming Congregation  -  The North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church has prepared an excellent step-by-step guide for your use.



Discussion Papers

The Nursery - Gateway for Families  -  For new families with infants, the nursery is key.

Nursery Safety - A First Priority  -  Is your nursery safe?

Guidelines for a Safe Nursery  -  A helpful guide for a safe and clean nursery.

Building Safe Sanctuaries for Youth  -  Recruiting, screening, and training workers with children and youth.

Establishing Your Child Protection Policy  -  A sample policy outline. 

Effective Screening Procedures  -  Developing a screening policy for those caring for children and youth.

NEW   Putting Yourself Into Your Offering   -  Stewardship with children and youth in the congregation.



Discussion Papers  

God's House or Clubhouse  -  How we use our building tells the community who we are.

How Accessible is Your Church?  -  Are you ready to greet everyone?

Accessibility and Historic Buildings  -  How do we make our older historic buildings accessible?

Lending Your Church Facilities  -  A guide for being a prudent landlord.

Clarity or Clutter - How we care for our church home tells the tale.


Facilities and Equipment Use Agreement   -  Sample forms to use when sharing your church's space.  

Waste Diversion in Toronto   -  Information on the City of Toronto's new waste collection fees for churches and not-for-profit agencies.

NEW   Selling Church Property   -  A useful guide on selling church property, entering into contracts with realtors, and understanding offers of purchase and sale. 

NEW   Financing Repairs, Renovations and Retrofits   -  How Toronto United Church Council can help finance your congregation's capital requirements.

NEW   Ontario Workplace Safety & Insurance Board - Information on new regulations for contractors doing work on your building.



Discussion Papers

Church Redevelopment - Seeking a Plan  -  How do you grapple with a concept like church redevelopment?

Church Redevelopment - Asking the Right Questions  -  What is a valid and creative redevelopment proposal?

The Regional Church - New, Creative, Effective  -  Developing regional churches is an important option for renewal in the United Church.

The Demise of the Middle-Sized Church  -  Are middle-sized churches faced with the choice of growing smaller or growing larger in order to survive?

Multi-Congregational Churches Becoming the Trend  -  Adding worship services to reach different groups of people.

Church Multiplies Ministry Through Multiple Sites  -  Does everything need to happen in one location?

Church Relocation May Be Only Option  -  A new vision may mean a new location.

New Immigrants - Meeting People Halfway  -  Building ministry relationships 

The Small Church Primer  -  The challenges and gifts of small membership churches.

Growing Organic Ministry in Rural New Zealand  -  Can the changing shape of the church in New Zealand help us here?

United Church at a Crossroads for Mission  -  Is the United Church ready for the future?

Church Development Guidelines   -  Development and funding guidelines for church redevelopment.


NEW   Partnerships: A Fresh Look At Mission   -   Using fresh eyes to look at what we mean by mission for the local congregation.

NEW   Growing Large Regional Congregations   -  Kennon Callahan shares 12 ways large regional churches can develop (seminar notes from event held for The Uniting Church of Australia).

NEW   A New Day: The Resilience & Restructuring of Religion in Canada   -  Noted Canadian sociologist Reginald Bibby is making his new book available for download without cost: a helpful examination of what's happening today and a strategy for moving forward.



Discussion Papers

Choose Life  -  The United Church faces stark choices - choose life or face death.

The Greenbelt - How and Where Communities Will Grow  -  What are the planning challenges facing our region?

The Church on the Urban-Rural Fringe of Greater Toronto  -  Is the United Church really ready for the new suburbs?

Church Planting in a Postmodern Culture  -  What is the church growth strategy for our culture context?

16 Ways of Starting New Congregations  -  One model doesn't fit all situations.

New Congregations Can Grow Within Shadow of the Old  -  What do you do when congregations ignore the needs of their neighbours?

A New Church Development Plan for a Presbytery  -  A guide for approaching the task of starting new churches.

Church Development Guidelines   -  Development and funding guidelines for establishing new congregations.


NEW   Expanding, Empowering, Equipping, Evaluating  -  A variety of excellent resources from The Reformed Church in America.

NEW   Writing a New Church Ministry Plan  -  A very helpful workbook from The United Church of Christ.

NEW   New Church Development as a Mission Priority   -  First published in 1998, this article is still a valuable resource in evaluating new church development as a mission priority in the context of the church's current life.



Discussion Papers

Guardians or Traders?  -  Have we lost touch with the entrepreneurial trading spirit?

Affirming Church Volunteers  -  A guide on maintaining an excellent and well-integrated volunteer program.

Volunteer Staff - Obligations and Rights  -  A code of practice for churches with both paid and volunteer staff.

Reflections on Leadership  -  It's never good to be ambivalent about leadership.

Leadership and Management - Neither is Optional  -  Church leaders need a balance of the two.

The Leadership of Change  -  Having a vision primarily oriented to the future.

Transforming Congregational Culture  -  Mobilizing people for the challenges ahead of them.



Discussion Papers

NEW   The Gospel for the Long Haul   -  Tools for supporting the pastor as a stewardship leader.

NEW   Doing Ministry "On Purpose"   -  Intentionally shaping a stewardship focus in your congregation.

NEW   Putting Yourself Into Your Offering   -  Stewardship with children and youth in your congregation.


Stewardship Bible Studies   -   Six Bible Studies from Luke and Acts for small group use.

Congregational Stewardship Resources   -  The Ecumenical Stewardship Centre is a great source of stewardship resources and educational programs.

Stewardship Toolkit   -   A stewardship toolkit for congregations from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.

Grow Your Congregation's Giving   -   Helpful guides from The United Church of Christ.

NEW    Telling It Like It Is   -  An honest way to report your congregation's financial needs.

NEW    Developing a Stewardship Theme Stream   -  Stewardship theme materials can make the difference.

NEW   The Power of Offertory Prayer   -   What are the guidelines for content in offertory prayers?



Discussion Papers

Housing and the Church  -  Responding to the crisis of homelessness.


NEW  CMHC Affordable Housing Centre   -  Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation research and financing information.

NEW  Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association  -  Information for those currently overseeing housing projects and development resources for groups interested in investigating a housing ministry (includes a list of Housing Development Consultants).




NEW  Healthy Family Meals  -  A series of cookbooks and demonstration DVDs that help people prepare healthy meals on a budget.  "Learn 2 Cook", housed at Northwest Barrie United Church, offers excellent resources for use by congregations, community ministries, food banks, and family support groups.

NEW  The Canadian Alternative Investment Co-operative  -  Financing for projects that assist in the economic development of disadvantaged people or communities. 


The Toronto United Church Council works with the church community to connect resources with ministry. Offering access to professional advice, financial support and leadership development, Council helps our church address the social and spiritual challenges of the day.