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Seminaries Refocus on Congregational Vitality

In the 1960s, many seminary faculty and staff believed that churches existed to promote social change and that congregations were part of the problem. However, Protestant seminaries have undergone a sea change since then; now they look to support congregational life and spur church vitality. That change is typified by Luther Seminary. The school put congregational life and contextual learning at the heart of its teaching in the 1990s and followed up by seeking the counsel of congregations as it shaped its 1998-2000 strategic plan. Now, Luther is in a three-year “Vibrant Congregations” study to learn from congregations how to promote vitality. The project, underwritten by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, and its preliminary findings are explored in "What Makes a Vibrant Congregation?," an article written by John M. Mulder and published on the Resources for American Christianity website, a resource site for the study of  and reflection on American Christian practice.

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