A congregation's paid staff are leaders, modelers, and tone-setters. Well-equipped, spirit-filled staff provide consistent, skilled, accountable leadership, which in turn builds capacity and ownership among the laity and enables congregations to thrive.
The world of professional religious leadership is complex and ever-changing: religious life is shifting in society, congregational needs are evolving, innovations are tried and shared, and new best practices emerge. To serve competently, confidently, and faithfully, staff must be intentional about their professional growth, and they should receive support and encouragement from their congregations for their ongoing formation.
In addition to strengthening the ministries of the congregation, regular professional development averts burnout, amplifies professionalism, and reinforces collegial relationships through shared learning.
Questions and concerns about staffing, staff performance, and personnel issues in your congregation should be directed to your regional staff.
Staff Teams Learn Together
The most vital and thriving congregations practice Shared Ministry. This includes an intention to match personal gifts with opportunities to serve, in covenantal relationship, all in service to the mission and vision of the congregation. The health and vitality of the congregation depends on the health and vitality of its minister(s), religious educator(s), music professional(s), administrative professional(s), membership professional(s) and other staff.
Performance Evaluations: Tips, Traps and Trends
Employees in meaningful roles want to do their best, and the best gift a supervisor can give is honest and helpful feedback. Provide opportunities for regular supervision that is supportive and useful to staff members, their supervisors, and your congregation’s leadership.
Support and Resources for Ministers and Staff
The staff at the UUA, along with the affiliated professional organizations (UUMA, LREDA, AUUMM, AUUA, UUAMP), have resources for Ministers, Religious Educators, Music Professionals, Administrators and Membership Professionals. From fellowshipping and credentialling to continuing education, we have support and resources for your staff.
Support for Staff Who are People of Color or Indigenous
Staff with historically marginalized identities may need extra support when serving in congregations with a white majority and culture. The UUA offers Finding Our Way Home, an annual retreat for UU religious professionals of Color. Black UU religious professionals may also want to explore BLUU for connection and support.
Webinars and Workshops
- The Ministry of Leading Staff: Team Ministry and Supervision: 2 videos (about 20 minutes each) created especially for those who are new to staff team leadership and supervision.
- Give Yourself the Gift of Professional Development: (webinar 55:50) What is “professional development?" Why is it essential? How do you choose and fund professional development activities and fit them into your schedule? While this webinar was developed for religious educators, most of the content translates well to other professional areas.
- Workshops from Past General Assemblies: Recordings and detailed slides from workshops offered by the Office of Church Staff Finance.
Professional Expense Allowances
Congregations following Fair Compensation guidelines provide funds to cover a specified amount for professional expenses for staff. Typical allowable expenses include books, journals, professional dues and continuing education.
Aid Funds for Ministers and Other Staff
Everyone should be treated with kindness and compassion, particularly in times of need. The Office of Church Staff Finances has various endowed and restricted funds that provide financial assistance to eligible individuals including:
- Ministers and their surviving spouses/partners;
- other religious professionals and congregational staff;
- the surviving spouses/partners of deceased ministers; and
- children of UU ministers and credentialed/certified religious professionals attending college.