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Leadership Development in Small Congregations

The greatest challenge for leaders in small congregations is burnout. Along with the general resources for Leadership Development, here are some specific recommendations for small congregations.

  • Make sure you have a clear mission and vision, and that every active member is in alignment with that mission
     
  • Work on your "strategic no." It it best to do focus on a few areas of ministry and do them well rather than spread yourselves too thin. If you can't find a volunteer, maybe that's a sign to let a program go.
     
  • Get connected! Reach out to other congregations and find ways to partner and share resources. Maybe you could plan a joint leadership retreat, or host an outside consultant for a workshop and invite other congregations
     
  • Reach out! There are lots of free and low-cost resources available from your district and region. Note local conferences and free webinars on your church's calendar.
     
  • Relationships matter—talk to people one-on-one about their gifts and passions and how they might find a way to serve.
     
  • Create transparent systems: Small congregations tend to depend on informal relationships to recruit leaders. Provide opportunities for people to explore serving without making a commitment.
     
  • Don't twist arms. You may get someone to fill a role now, but doing a job that you don't want to do is a sure recipe for burnout.
     
  • Create accountability, but only for what is under someone's control. e.g. You can ask someone to do an every-member canvass but not to increase giving by 20%. You can ask someone to offer quality religious education but not to increase the number of participants.

Resources

Podcasts

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, June 6, 2013.

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