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An example of local re-invention

An example of local re-invention

We hear a lot about how our congregations are not museums, but congregations can learn from some small local history museums near Boston have reinvented themselves, creating sustainable institutions that are going against two decades of decline for museums nationwide.

Faith and Leadership blog from Duke Divinity School:

Congregations can learn from museums’ experiences, Shea says, since both are trying to sustain missions with fewer dollars and fewer members than in years past. She suggests churches could do more to leverage their brands, perhaps as stewards or consciences of communities, to provide spaces where neighbors explore – in depth and in dialogue with theological traditions – what matters to them today.

Local museums that do well “are taking that old role as cultural authority and leveraging that to be the facilitator of cultural knowledge and experience,” Shea said. “That’s the role that really works and is really paying off.”

Shea acknowledges the museum model doesn’t translate perfectly to churches, which have particular theologies guiding what they can and should do. But they can do what museums have done in terms of taking stock of their resources and asking: how might these be redeployed to better advance our mission?

“What we’ve seen in the examples of museums and heritage organizations is that they generally are working with [enduring, available resources as] pieces of the puzzle,” Shea said. “It’s about trying to put them together in creative new ways.”


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