Congregational Vitality Books

A list of curated reading resources that could inspire and re-imagine pathways to a healthy and vibrant congregation together with some practical strategies on how to get there.

Signs of Life

Arch Chee Keen Wong, Bill McAlpine, Joel Thiessen & Keith Walker

What does it look like for a congregation to flourish? The research team at the Flourishing Congregations Institute addresses this question in their book, Signs of Life, released in early 2021. Bill McAlpine, Joel Thiessen, Keith Walker, and Arch Chee Keen Wong draw on Canadian-based social scientific research with Catholic, mainline, and conservative Protestant church leaders as well as those in the pews. Alongside social scientific observations and analyses, this book deals with a range of challenging theological insights and questions, plus offers numerous practical considerations and possibilities for congregations who wish to flourish.

Available here: Amazon Canada

Thriving Congregations: Urban and Rural Successes

Loraine Mackenzie Shepherd with contributions from Tammy Allan and Nancy Pinnell

So many of us are trying to figure out how to respond to God’s call to be the church in these times, with the pandemic a big wake-up call to pay attention to what was already happening all around us. The social environment has changed, and, like any organism, the church must evolve. Some congregations will close—this is inevitable—but some will find new ways of responding to a new reality. Thriving Churches, a book filled with concrete examples from urban and rural congregations of all sizes will spur your thinking about the church of the future, combining hope and challenge, spiritual attributes, and practical suggestions.

Available here: United Church Bookstore

Thriving Churches in the Twenty First Century

Gary L. McIntosh & R. Daniel Reeves

This book (written in the context of the USA) offers 10 life-giving systems that could lead to a vibrant and thriving church. Generating spiritual energy, developing effective leadership, increasing people flow and charting amid change are critical points in being the church in the 21st century.

Available here: Amazon Canada

Better Than Brunch: Missional Churches in Cascadia

Jason Byassee & Ross A. Lockhart

What could be better than brunch on a Sunday morning? For most people in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, the answer of gathering to worship the Triune God and be sent as witnesses would not be top of mind. And yet, across the Pacific Northwest the authors discovered deeply rooted missional communities worshipping God and serving their neighborhoods, offering evidence of unexpected Cascadian treasure in clay jars. Join the authors on a treasure hunt throughout the region as they identify new patterns of post-Christendom Christianity that will inspire and challenge your understanding of church.

Available here: Wifp and Stock Publishers

Northern Lights: Resurrecting Church in the North of England

Jason Byassee

You may have heard that churches in Europe are vanishing. Yet church growth in London has been steady for decades, fueled by such innovations as Alpha and Fresh Expressions. What about outside the capital? Some, both inside and outside the church, say churches “cannot grow.” But here they are–growing churches–in the north of England of all places. This is not only a story about England. It is about growing churches wherever you’ve heard they “can’t” grow. God is always up to something precisely where (we think) God shouldn’t be.

Available here: Wifp and Stock Publishers