Chris Yaw Interviews Martin Copenhaver: Concentrating on Adult Formation Grows the Church

Taken with permission from

Ask anyone at Pastor Martin Copenhaver's Wellesley Congregational Church what their community's purpose is and you'll get, 'Growing in faith."

That's behind an increased emphasis on adult faith formation at Wellesley - it's inspired an increasingly popular program called GIFT (Growing In Faith Together).

In this interview, Martin, a noted author, speaker, and U.C.C. minister shares about adult, and pastoral faith formation programs - as well as his Ten Marks of a Healthy Church. Here are some wise words from a gifted and insightful clergyman.


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Martin Copenhaver has a passion for helping people grow in their faith - and dedicated his life to helping build healthy congregations. Here are my notes from the interview:

The Two Keys to Successful Adult Formation

It's a high quality program - and it's small groups. Martin spends just as long on a 30 minute teaching segment as a Sunday sermon. And small groups are essential for people to process information and build relationships.

The Teaching Congregation

Martin says congregations are wise to take the possibility of teaching and training upcoming clerics very seriously. Like the difference between a teaching hospital and a non-teaching hospital, it breeds an atmosphere of openness, expectation, and humility. How can your congregation engage in this?

The Ten Marks of a Healthy Congregation

It starts with purpose and ends with the conviction that we've got to ditch those 7 words: We've never done it that way before.

About Martin Copenhaver

Martin Copenhaver has been Senior Pastor of Village Church since 1994. Martin is a magna cum laude graduate of Dickinson College and received his Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School. Martin is the author of five books:Living Faith While Holding DoubtsTo Begin at the Beginning: An Introduction to the Christian FaithGood News in Exile (co-authored with Anthony B. Robinson and William Willimon); and Words for the Journey: Letters to Our Teenagers About Life and Faith (co-authored with Anthony B. Robinson), and This Odd and Wondrous Calling:  The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers (co-authored with Lillian Daniel).  He writes for a number of periodicals, including The Christian Century, where he also serves as an Editor at Large.  Martin serves on the Board of Trustees of Andover Newton Theological School, where he also teaches preaching, and on the Board of Advisors of Yale Divinity School.  He and his wife, Karen have two children.

Books Martin Recommends

What's Theology Got to Do with It? - Anthony Robinson

When Moses Meets Aaron - Gil Rendle and Susan Beaumont

The Next Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander and Cornel West