Chris Yaw Interviews Alban Institute's James Wind on Building Your Congregation

Taken with permission from

Nearly 40 years ago founders of The Alban Institute set out to resource local congregations - and its current president, The Rev. Dr. James Wind, is continuing the task.

Since its humble beginnings Alban has branched out into publishing, conferences, and newsletters (both print and email) that share valuable resources with congregations.

In this interview Dr. Wind shares his optimism about the North American church, his insights into its challenges, and his sage advice for today's congregational leaders.


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There are some 325,000 churches in North America - that alone is a stunning indication about congregational vitality, says Dr. Wind. His optimism for the Church and where it's headed punctuated our conversation. Here are my notes from the interview:

We're Still Winning, Despite the Competition

Just think about the myriad of options the average Sunday morning churchgoer passes up to attend your worship services. While it's something to revel in, it's also a challenge to address: with an increasing array of options, how are we competing?

What's Going On Here?

It's the main question of the pastor, says Dr. Wind, to figure out what's really going on. Holding up a mirror to your congregation may, or may not, be roundly welcomed, but it's our job. How are you doing at it?

Leadership Comes in Partial Packages

No one has the complete package, says Dr. Wind, which is why collaboration is so important today - between clergy and congregation - to share everyone's gifts for the benefit of all.

About Dr. Wind

The Reverend Dr. James P. Wind is president of the Alban Institute, an independent center of learning and leadership development with a focus on congregations, in Herndon, Virginia. He is a prominent voice in the wider conversation about the role of religion in America and the value of congregations.  Wind is the author of several books including The Bible and the University, 1987; Places of Worship: Exploring Their History, 1990; andConstructing Your Congregation's Story, 1993. Wind has served as president of the Alban Institute since 1995. He also serves on the boards of The Washington National Cathedral, Odyssey Networks, and the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. An ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1978), Wind served at Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois, from 1978-1990. He received his Ph.D from The Divinity School of the University of Chicago in 1983. Previously Wind has served at the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics, in Chicago, Illinois, and at The Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Wind lives in Reston, Virginia, with his wife, Kathleen. They are the parents of two grown children, Joshua and Rachel.

Books Dr. Wind Recommends

Journey to the Common Good - Walter Brueggemann

Amazing Gifts - Mark Pinzky

Coming Apart - Charles Murray

Sponsors I Mentioned

Are you headed to the Wild Goose Festival? Thousands of campers are headed to the beautiful hills of North Carolina June 21-24. Wild Goose is a festival at the intersection of justice, spirituality, and art. Some of this year's guests are Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, and Shane Claiborne. ChurchNext is a proud sponsor - find out more