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Leader Resource

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  • By James Kubal-Komoto, Pacific Western Region of the UUA
    A congregation’s mission is an answer to the question, “Why does this congregation exist in the world?” Congregational leaders are constantly faced with a barrage of decisions. Without a clear mission, how can they make those decisions?
  • The vision, mission, covenant and other guiding documents can be incorporated into the life of the congregation in an unlimited number of ways in order to keep them in front of the members. The following are some suggestions:
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    To keep your mission, vision, covenant and other guiding documents relevant, it's helpful to revisit them every 5-7 years.
  • By Douglas Zelinski
    Mission speaks to the congregation’s calling, the source of its integrity and it’s central reason for being. What are we called to be and do?
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Vision statements need to be useful to the leaders. Effective vision statements tend to have common characteristics.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    This process can be run in a morning, afternoon, or a longish evening. The program works well with teenagers on up to seniors.
  • By First Parish in Lexington, Lexington, MA
    A consensus decision-making model empowers participants to cooperate with one another in order to reach an outcome that is in the best interest of the group as a whole and that furthers the group’s stated purpose.
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    What do we need as a core theology to take down today's giants of racism, patriarchy, environmental destruction, and other ills of the 21st century?
  • By Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe, David Pyle, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    What are the basic documents that every board member should have at their fingertips? Here is a handy list to construct your own board manual.
  • By Robert L. Eller-Isaacs, Laura Park
    Sample Scripts from the 2009 UU University Governance Track.
  • By Stefan Jonasson
    Establishing good communication practices and healthy boundaries are essential to attracting and keeping good staff. This article gives an overview of good practices, with special tips for congregations of various sizes.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    All congregations must understand that the instruments of congregational polity will vary with the size of the congregation. The practices of governance must be suited to the characteristics of the individual congregation.
  • An overview of how UU governance developed over time.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Governance is the system by which a congregation exercises its authority. A congregation may use any system to govern itself; it may change systems frequently or entirely ignore the systems it claims as its own, but as long as the congregation lives, it will continue to exercise authority.
  • By Stefan Jonasson
    Five key components needed in the governance system of congregations, including visioning, coordinating, planning, training and implementing.
  • By UUA Congregational Life: Growth Strategies For Congregations Office
    Ministry is the work of the congregation. In order to do this work well, a congregation needs several characteristics that make for good, focused ministry.
  • By Anne Odin Heller
    An accessible, attractive and efficient office space makes staff, volunteers and visitors happy and productive!
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    What are typical job descriptions for the officers on a congregational board? Here is summary of typical roles and responsibilties.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Where to find information and links to UUA resources from out Safe Congregations team. It includes resources and sample policies to prevent and address violence, abuse, harassment, inappropriate behavior, and other threats to safety.
  • By Jan Gartner
    Is your congregation an employer? In other words do you pay folks to do work? Be it a minister, religious educator, custodian, musician, administrator or some other position? Are any of those folx participants in any of the UUA plans? Retirement, health insurance, etc?
  • By David Pyle
    Congregational Life Staff are often asked who performs executive functions in UU Congregations under policy governance. Here are some considerations.
  • By Jan Christian
    Is your congregation seeking to become more intentional about nurturing generosity in every part of congregational life? Use these readings and reflections for a faith formation class or small group reflection.
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    It's hard for boards to operate with a 30,000 foot view of the congregation's finances when they are given detailed spreadsheets of tracking the minutia of the budget. A much more useful tool is a "dashboard" report.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Which decisions should be made by the "congregation in meeting" via a congregational vote according to congregational polity, and which decisions can be made by the governing board?
  • By Christine C. Robinson, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Out of space? Good for you! Here are some things to think about and plan for. Going to two services offers advantages beyond solving space problems. It offers choices in service timing, for instance. This might seem like a small matter at this point, but congregations who shrink from two services to one often find that their attendance shrinks by about 10% when they do.
  • Learn how the human brain is impacted by anxiety in organizations like congregations.
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    pen process and transparent communication are essential to self-governing institutions like congregations. Board meetings are usually open to any of the members. If this happens, good hospitality and boundaries can make it a positive experience for all. But there are also times when a board may need to discuss something in private (e.g. personnel issues) in an Executive Session.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Congregations often have unexpected issues that arise between board meetings that need immediate attention. ...
  • By MidAmerica Region of the UUA
    Many congregations start the church year with a retreat for the Board of Trustees (including the Minister). Ideally, this retreat is held Friday evening through Saturday afternoon, at a site away from the place you usually meet. Perhaps you could go to someone's lake cabin or a local retreat center,...
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Healthy and transparent communication needs to be mutual, with all parties taking responsibility for their words. Leaders should have firm policies against accepting anonymous feedback. And yet, there are times when cultural differences or power differentials require a nuanced understanding of healthy communication.
  • By Jan Gartner, UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Office of Church Staff Finances
    You’ve probably heard that there are special tax rules for ministers. Most church leaders don’t need to be experts on ministerial...
  • By Jan Gartner, UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Office of Church Staff Finances, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    One of the best ways to demonstrate how a congregation lives its values is in how it treats its staff. ...
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    Congregational boards are intended to provide collective discernment rather than be a forum for competing interests or agendas. Faithful boards are in alignment with and accountable to the mission and vision of the congregation. Effective boards trust each other enough to listen deeply to one another, and to admit to one another when they don't have an answer.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Developing a culture and habits of healthy communication will set the tone for the rest of the congregation. ...
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    The flow of information in an organization is a bit like the flow of water after a rain. Ideally, the information is shared evenly, and the members are able to absorb it like loamy soil. But information that triggers anxiety can be like a heavy rain. Without established channels, information will create its own channels, possible eroding trust or creating other damage.Here are some practices to create healthy communication channels.
  • By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
    Balancing transparency and confidentiality can be challenging for congregational board members, staff, and other leaders who have access to...
  • By Ian Evison, MidAmerica Region of the UUA
    I have a love-hate relationship with surveys, especially surveys used as a part of congregational planning. Frankly, used in this context they can often do more harm than good. When used as one among a number of ways of collecting data, they can get great and comparatively easy way to add peripheral vision to face-to-face methods of gathering response. Here Ian Evison offers a few guidelines for using surveys well.
  • By David Pyle
    Congregational Governing Boards have different structures, cultures, assumptions, and responsibilities in different congregations. The size and structure of a governing board is dependent upon the roles and responsibilities of the board itself. Here are a series of factors that you can consider as you determine the size of your congregation's board.
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    Organizations, like all systems, seek equilibrium. If a congregation is thrown out of balance by the prospect of change, most members will seek to restore order and sameness. This is natural and should not be a reason to judge one another. Healthy organizations have developed the ability to be receptive to change and resistance--to lean into the disruption to their equilibrium. This is where a congregation becomes a community of learning.
  • By Jan Christian, Pacific Western Region of the UUA
    Surveys that work best come out of an understanding that the job of leadership is not to “make people happy” but to help the congregation live out its mission. Surveys that are useless at best and divisive at worst typically seek to honor personal preferences about various areas of congregational life (including the minister).
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    "Deferred Maintenance" and "Building Reserves" are terms that are often tossed around when talking about the budget, but what do they mean?
  • By David Pyle
    Every Unitarian Universalist Congregation is designed differently. How each congregation functions is a blend of congregational experience, culture, and history. Congregational structures are also affected by whether and which other congregations members have attended or been a part of before. We...
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    Sustainable leadership development cannot be reactive to these kinds of crises. Leadership Development should be an ongoing process in your congregation that includes the following practices: Identify, Invite, Inform, Involve and Inquire.
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    We often claim that budgets are moral documents, and that congregational budgets should reflect our values. But line item budgets that include "office supplies, utilities, salary" and other such descriptions don't show how these line items serve the mission of the congregation. How might we re-imagine how we categorize our expenditures?
  • By Renee Ruchotzke
    In order for a congregation to reflect the global majority in its membership, its leaders must learn to model how to de-center the culture of the congregation from White identity and culture. Here are some practices to get you started.

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