You Might Be Ready to Yoke If...
- You are struggling to keep ministers because you can only offer part-time positions.
- Your youth program or social justice ministry may be strengthened if you joined with a neighbor Unitarian Universalist (UU) church.
- You are open to sharing staff, but still want to retain your own board, bylaws and budgets.
- You are willing to share your staff with a sibling congregation to create a more vibrant ministerial team.
- You believe that combining resources can make you stronger together.
If these ring true, you might be ready to enter into a Yoked multisite relationship!
Yoked congregations tend to begin their relationship out of the desire to create a stronger or more stable ministerial team. We all know that smaller congregations that can only support part-time ministry end up having a high turn-over rate. Joining forces with sibling congregations allows you to offer a full-time position and stabilize your ministerial services. Larger congregations with full-time ministers also find this model attractive. Serving as an isolated minister is tough. Asking one minister to be all things to all people is unrealistic. Yoked congregations that combine resources to share two or more staff members get the gift of a richer and stronger staff team and also enable their staff to play to their strengths—not to mention relieving the isolation that many ministers hate, and giving them a team of colleagues!
Unlike mergers, yoked congregations have an independent streak. So while they are willing to share staff, they are not willing to give up their independent boards, bylaws and budgets. But their church cultures also tend to have a humble streak as well. They know they can't make it on their own. So they gladly reach out to sibling congregations to combine resources.
One caveat: while yoked congregations begin by sharing staffing, they soon find themselves hungering for deeper relationship, which leads to shared programming, and in turn may lead to shared mission. If a yoked model is not careful, it can easily lead to deep interdependence!!
Here's the skinny:
A Yoked Model is...
• made up of two or more independent congregations (each retains its board, bylaws, and budgets)
• bound by shared (lead) staff & shared (major) programming
• motivated by a "spirit of sharing”
• hoping to combine resources to strengthen ministry, create a more powerful ministerial team and be more impactful than either could be alone.
If you want to live into 'better together' and are willing to share, you might be yearning to share the gifts of yoked ministry.