Helping Leaders Find Their Way
Helping Leaders Find Their Way

About twenty years ago, I was sitting in my minister’s office, discerning whether I should put myself forward as a candidate for Moderator of the congregation. The old guard of leaders were tired and burnt out. I and the other new members who were considering board positions were inexperienced. But we said yes.

We learned “on the job” and made a lot of mistakes. Luckily, the congregation was (mostly) gracious and forgiving.

Some of the older leaders had gone to a leadership school, and raved about its impact on their leadership and on their understanding of Unitarian Universalism. But I had a small child that I couldn’t leave for a whole week. Even if I could, I only had 2 weeks of vacation available and needed those to recharge from my stressful job. And I didn’t have several hundred extra dollars to spend.

Eventually, I cobbled together my own leadership training from books, Saturday conferences, and—eventually—seminary. If only that soon-to-be Moderator sitting in that minister’s study 20 years ago (as well as the other new leaders) had access to leadership training, the congregation would have benefitted greatly.

Today, we have seen the impact when congregations have leaders who have been through leadership training—either a leadership school or a version of Healthy Congregations® training. They are healthy. They are resilient. They are able to have nuanced conversations about tricky issues. We know that the more we can make training and affordable, more congregations will be able to offer training to their leaders.

In order to help our congregations, we are offering a series of four online leadership development courses for only $30 each. They are designed so that prospective or new leaders can take beginner courses and experienced leaders can take higher level courses. The topics in each of the courses align, so that all of the leaders can get together in person and—together—can work case studies, do interactive learning and discuss topics with materials that we provide.

Here are the four courses:

Faithful Membership For new members and those interested in possible leadership. Covers covenant, healthy communication and boundaries, shared ministry, and stewardship. Also provides an introduction to congregational polity, UU theologies, and the wider UU movement. Healthy Leadership Includes family and other systems thinking applied to congregations. (Similar to Healthy Congregations®) Learn healthy leadership practices, communication and conflict skills, the importance of being mission-focused and how to communicate across differences Strategic Leadership Develop a deeper understanding of how to focus your congregation on mission, build trust and develop a cohesive leadership team. Learn about stewardship, strategic planning, annual goal setting and ministry assessment and the basics of congregational governance. Adaptive Leadership Develop advanced leadership skills that will help identify challenges. Learn how to help others see challenges in new ways, empower others and find creative solutions together. This course includes working on a case study with other participants.

We hope to see you online!

Rev. Renee Ruchotkze, CER Congregational Life Staff and Co-Dean of UU Leadership Institute

About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

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