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Courageous Congregations Collaborative

TMF’s Leadership Ministry team had countless conversations with pastors, bishops, conference leaders, spiritual entrepreneurs and practitioners from various fields about the adaptive challenges the church is facing in the pandemic and the anticipated challenges in the post-pandemic world.

Through these conversations, the team identified “Five Muscles” congregations need to strengthen and flex in order to thrive now and in the foreseeable future. TMF was awarded a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to continue to develop this work and share it with teams from congregations through a six-month cohort experience called “Courageous Congregations Collaborative” or “C3.”

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The 5 Adaptive Muscles

The primary component of C3 is the Five Muscles. Each muscle is listed below with some of the key discernment questions. Click here to download a PowerPoint presentation with these questions that you can use as conversation starters in your context.

Muscle 1: Attending Grief

  • What is our shared narrative of Grief?
  • Why are we so reluctant to name why we miss what we miss?
  • How is grief impacting us and our decision-making today?

Muscle 2: Discerning Purpose

  • Are we living out of our self-appointed preferences, or God’s purpose for us?
  • What is the difference God is calling us to make now?

Muscle 3: Walking Alongside

  • What is needed to move from “We welcome you” to “We stand with you” to “We need you”?
  • What are the gifts and talents in our neighborhood?
  • What is God already doing in our neighborhood? How is God calling us to join in?

Muscle 4: Distributing Power

  • Where is the power in your congregation? In your community?
  • How is the power dynamic impacting decision-making?
  • What happens if someone in your church says, “I have a dream for a ministry?”

Muscle 5: Expanding Imagination

  • Who can teach us what we don’t know?
  • Who can open up a new part of the world to us?
  • What questions have we been asking that need to be reframed
  • What does this disruption make possible?

The C3 Experience

Fall 2021 Cohorts

Two cohorts, each consisting of teams from three congregations, will meet virtually twice a month from September – November 2021 and January – March 2022. During this time, facilitators will engage teams in conversation and experiences related to each of the five adaptive muscles congregations need to emerge from the pandemic with purpose and vitality. By the end of C3, teams will have clarity about the next faithful steps God is calling them to take in and with their congregations to exercise the five muscles now and in the future. Teams can apply for a micro-grant to help fund their next faithful steps. Facilitators will meet in person with teams in May and September 2022 to offer continued support.

Spring 2022 Cohorts

Congregations will be invited to apply for the Spring 2022 cohorts in Fall 2021. To find out more about C3 and see if applying to be a part of a cohort is the next faithful step for your congregation, contact Blair Thompson-White.

Contact for C3


For more information about C3 or to invite Leadership Ministry to share more about the Five Adaptive Muscles through a workshop or webinar, contact: Rev. Dr. Blair Thompson-WhiteDirector of Leadership Ministry.