Vital Christian Community

Vital Christian Community

Twelve Characteristics of Healthy Congregations

Philip Brochard, Alissabeth Newton


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Twelve characteristics of healthy Christian communities and the congregational and personal practices that develop them.

Congregations have been the bedrock of mainline Christian life and practice for centuries but in recent years many have dwindled in energy and impact. Leaders conclude that change is needed, that they can’t keep applying the same models and practices that have served in the past but no longer seem to work.

At a time when all kinds of institutions are being buffeted by swift and strong cultural forces, Brochard and Newton believe the congregation to be a primary site for the transformation of individuals, communities, and the world and that the measures for congregational vitality begin with health, faithfulness, and effectiveness as local expressions of the Church.

The authors offer readers insights into developing a sense of purpose, building trust, encouraging curiosity, becoming more collaborative, appreciating productive conflict, and other vital skills.


Philip Brochard:

Phil Brochard has served as the Rector of All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, California, since 2008. As a trainer with the College for Congregational Development and as a consultant with congregations and dioceses in leadership development and lecturer at seminaries, Phil has helped develop and apply a variety of models to help congregations learn, grow, adapt, and thrive. He lives in Albany, California.


Alissa Newton serves the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia as Canon for Congregational Development and Leadership Formation. She is also the vicar of St. Columba's Episcopal Church in Kent, Washington. Alissa is a co-founder of the College for Congregational Development and has over a decade of experience as a development consultant with congregations across the mainline church. Alissa lives in Des Moines, Washington.