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Learn to Prune to Promote New Congregational Growth

Letting go is difficult. It is also an essential practice; without letting go, our lives, homes, business efforts, and social lives become tangled in the past and incapable of taking in new opportunities, friends, and visions for the future. Churches also need to periodically "prune," says the Rev. Donna Claycomb Sokol, pastor of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. It begins, she says, "with a painful process of discernment, separating 'essential' from 'nonessential' and then letting go" of extra staff, of unnecessary property, of all of that stuff stashed in church closets, cabinets, nooks, and crannies, as well as your outdated program, and oversized boards. "New life," she continues, " can emerge only when dead branches are cut away. And fruitful branches can produce more fruit when they are trimmed and cut back a bit." For inspiration and illustration, read her reflection on the art of pruning to stimulate new vitality, hosted on Faith & Leadership, an online offering of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School. For more on how to promote congregational revitalization and renewal, explore our feature article, "Best Resources on Congregational Vitality."

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