Exceptional Program Planning

Exceptional Program Planning

These resources are recommended by Tim Shapiro, Center for Congregations president and workshop presenter. Shapiro facilitated the workshop Exceptional Program Planning in June 2017. For additional resources, contact the Center at 866-307-2381 or check out the Congregational Resource Guide at http://thecrg.org/.


Cahalan, Kathleen. Projects That Matter: Successful Planning and Evaluation for Religious Organizations. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2003.
This book brings the process of formal and systemic program and project evaluation into congregations and religious organizations. It includes numerous examples from congregational and faith-based community programs. The method introduces project leaders and teams to the five basic elements of project design and describes in detail a six-step process for designing and implementing a project evaluation and disseminating evaluation findings. Presenting evaluation as a form of collaborative inquiry, Cahalan shows how leaders can use evaluation design to develop effective project plans and prepare case statements for donors or grant proposals for foundations.

“Evaluating Your Ministry.” Leadership Ministries of the General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2017.
This brief article advocates for ministry and program evaluation and overcoming discomfort with evaluation to include it in intentional and effective ways. It begins by noting that evaluation inevitably happens in informal ways, such as participants’ casual conversation or their decision whether or not to continue participating. But since evaluation that is not pursued doesn’t provide benefits, it is important to build formal evaluation into all program planning. Some benefits include providing participants the opportunity to express opinion, providing planners with measurements to use in future planning, building on success and correcting mistakes.

Shapiro, Tim. How Your Congregation Learns. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.
This book describes how congregational leaders move from identifying a congregational challenge to a project, program and activity that effectively addresses the challenge. The author of the book, Tim Shapiro, the president of the Center for Congregations, describes the movement from idea to implementation as the learning journey. Elements of the learning journey include identifying the challenge, exploration, disappointment, discovery, taking on and letting go, validation, and the reality that there is always going to be another challenge. The learning journey represents what actually happens when a congregation learns to do something new

Shapiro, Tim. “The Learning Congregation.” Center for Congregations, 2015. Accessed April 14, 2017. http://thecrg.org/resources/how-your-congregation-learns#sthash.4UhBRfjV.dpuf
Faith communities that effectively meet new challenges and opportunities have some behaviors in common. In this essay, a veteran pastor and president of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations discusses eight behaviors of congregations that learn well. He draws from the Center’s 15 years of experience helping congregations find and use resources. For example, Shapiro observes that learning congregations find and use outside resources that add perspective and information to what the congregation already knows.