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Large Congregations

Hello, I’m Stefan Jonasson, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA’s) Director for Large Congregations. Every week, I receive numerous calls and emails from leaders in large and midsize congregations seeking insights or information about the challenges faced by congregations of their size. Sometimes their questions lead to long and interesting conversations—even visits to their congregations—while, at other times, I’m able to refer them to an online resource that can help them.

Below are the ten links to online resources that I’ve found to be most valuable this past year, arranged by topic.

I hope you find these resources to be helpful. If you wish to explore any of these topics further, or if you didn’t find your interest represented here, please contact me by email or telephone and I’d be happy to help you identify the resources you need.

Stefan Jonasson, Director for Large Congregations
largecongregations @
(204) 889-4746

The Nature of Larger Congregations

  • Beyond "Corporate": New Insights on Larger Churches
    Reflections by Susan Beaumont on the latest research into the different types of congregations represented in the category “large church.” This article reminds us that large churches are not all the same and that serious developmental challenges face congregations of every size.


  • The Size and Shape of Governance (PDF)
    My own brief introduction to the topic of congregational governance, which identifies five key components of governance and offers a thumbnail sketch of how governance changes as congregations grow in size.
  • The Art of Governance
    Dan Hotchkiss offers another insightful perspective on governing congregations, identifying key characteristics of good governance and also pitfalls and mistakes that can be made along the way.
  • Linking Governance and Emotional Systems
    No governance model or organizational structure will be effective in the absence of a healthy emotional system in a congregation. This presentation at the 2007 General Assembly looked at the critical linkages between governance models and systems theory. This site includes links to the accompanying PowerPoint presentation and to relevant governance websites.


  • Staffing the Large Congregation (PDF)
    I’m often asked how much staff a congregation should employ and what their lines of accountability should be. Those are both good questions: an effective church staff requires adequate numbers, balance, clear lines of authority, and motivating leadership.
  • The Senior Minister as Chief of Staff (PDF)
    It’s common for people to ask why it is that the senior minister should be chief of staff, barring some compelling reason for organizing the staff otherwise. Beyond being the most common model in a multi-staff congregation, designating the senior minister (or co-ministers) as chief of staff is grounded in the minister’s breadth of oversight and privilege of call.


Leadership Development

  • Leadership Development in the Large Congregation (PDF)
    The quality of your congregation’s leadership can be enhanced—even fundamentally transformed—by reimagining the role of the nominating committee and broadening its purpose to make it a leadership development committee. Here’s one model for helping your committee transition to a new paradigm.

Lateral Relationships

  • The UUA's Largest Congregations (PDF)
    Sometimes congregational leaders need to talk to their peers in other congregations, to explore common areas of concern or seek wisdom from more experienced colleagues. This list of the UUA’s largest congregations will help you identify congregations like yours. (Tip: Your best prospects usually involve congregations nearest to yours in size or location, so it’s generally best to focus your contacts on congregations most like your own.)

For more information contact largecongregations @

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

Last updated on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

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