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Ten Behaviors For Highly Effective Congregations

By Donald E. Skinner

  1. Each year, core leaders agree on short-term goals. They agree that barring an emergency, they will not be diverted from these objectives.
  2. Leaders trust one another, respecting the work each does. They resist micro managing.
  3. Committees, because they are trusted, can delegate to smaller task forces or teams of three to five people much of the work they previously did themselves.
  4. Focus first on small goals and short-term planning to create successes before moving to long-range planning. This prevents leader burnout.
  5. Core leaders express a positive, pro-active style. They offer their vision and understand their mission well enough to share it publicly. This style symbolizes a congregation "on the move." It is reflected in the newsletter and announcements.
  6. Small group entry points are created for newcomers. Each month there are one or more opportunities for new people to meet one another and become integrated.
  7. Lay leaders are visible, active participants in the Sunday service, trained to share their faith and spiritual perspectives just as the professional staff share theirs.
  8. Special fundraising is conducted through the year to enhance facilities and carry out social service programs and other initiatives.
  9. Committees adopt a permission-granting orientation. Leaders resist the temptation to shut down new entry opportunities for newcomers.
  10. Accomplishments, however modest, are celebrated often, and thanks given to those responsible.

From Turnabout Topics, the newsletter of Turnabout Consultants, a church consulting firm operated by Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Charles Gaines.

About the Author

Donald E. Skinner

Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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