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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 the button below to see the presentation with these questions that you can use as conversation starters in your context.

Muscle 1: Grieving Well

  • 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

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Fall 2022 Cohort

Download the PDF for information about our upcoming cohort. While C3 has an invitation-only application process, contact Blair Thompson-White if you feel C3 may be the next faithful step for your congregation.

Sharing about the Five Muscles

Our team loves to help spark conversation and imagination by sharing about the Five Muscles at workshops, retreats, on podcasts, with leadership teams, small groups, and Sunday School classes. Contact Blair Thompson-White for scheduling.

Igniting Imagination Podcast about the Five Muscles


For more information about the Five Muscles listen to Season 3 and Season 4 of our podcast Igniting Imagination! Guests include Suzanne Stabile, Joerg Rieger, Susan Beaumont, Gil Rendle, Mike Mather, Amy Oden, and more! Watch this video clip on abundance with Mike Mather to gain a sense of our conversations with these incredible leaders.