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Searchable Leader Lab Library
  • Channeling Your Success Through Good Communication

    The opportunity is great in our congregations for rumors, miscommunication, gossip and, of course, conflict. Examine the barriers to open communication processes and will explore ways in which lay and ministerial leaders can open up channels of communication and create...
    By Mark Bernstein, Central East Region of the UUA | 8/31/2017
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  • Justice Ministry Matters

    Presenters: Meck Groot and Cora McCold, New England Region UUA on June 8, 2017 ...
    By New England Region of the UUA | 6/8/2017
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  • Effective Meetings: Tips and Techniques

    Smooth and efficient meetings require planning, structure, transparency and practice! It takes a lot of practice to be a good facilitator. Even more importantly, good facilitators don't go it alone--they ask other leaders to take on different roles to keep the meeting on...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/7/2017
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  • Creating Meetings that Matter

    In many congregations, meetings are considered a necessary evil. It doesn't have to be that way. Learn spiritual and practical ideas for running efficient, effective and faith-based meetings
    By Mark Bernstein, Central East Region of the UUA | 6/7/2017
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  • Storytelling for All Ages!

    Learn how to tell a story that a multigenerational audience will enjoy and remember! Learn storytelling structures and techniques, basic mime skills, memorization tips, and how to project.
    By Central East Region of the UUA | 6/7/2017
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  • Understanding Ministerial Compensation

    A brief overview of how to budget for ministry. For more detailed information visit the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances or download Ministerial Compensation 101: A Basic Primer (PDF) .
    By Renee Ruchotzke, UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Office of Church Staff Finances | 6/2/2017
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  • Untangling Triangles

    Learn how triangulated communication increases unhealthy conflict in congregations, and how to avoid and untangle triangulated conversations. Pacific Western Region (2016).
    By James Kubal-Komoto, Pacific Western Region of the UUA | 6/2/2017
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  • How to Be a Great Congregational President

    An opportunity for new presidents to learn the basics, share some resources, and network with those moving into the role. Featuring Amy L. Nelson, former president of the UU Congregation of Rochester, MN. (May, 2015)
    By Ian Evison, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/14/2017
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  • Before Disaster Strikes

    Learn from Rev. Julie Taylor, a member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry, and Rev. Lisa Presley, MidAmerica Staff person and responder, as they discuss what a congregation can, and should do, to prepare themselves for disasters, whether natural or human caused.
    By Lisa Presley, Julie Taylor, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/14/2017
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  • Green Eyeshades and Rose Colored Glasses

    Congregational budget-makers frequently divide into two camps that approach the task in different ways. The first camp is likely to include children of the Great Depression, experts in finance, elementary school teachers, and persons anxious about their own money situation....
    By Dan Hotchkiss, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 3/20/2017
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  • 3 Parts of Effective Governance

    When you understand the purpose of governance and what it needs to be effective, your work as a board becomes much clearer.
    By Dan Hotchkiss, UU Leadership Institute | 3/16/2017
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  • May Day! Budget Crisis! What To Do

    One of your top donors moves to be closer to their grandchildren. Another major donor gets a new job two states away. And then two or three of your oldest members pass away. When your annual stewardship drive comes along, your finance folks discover that--in spite of an overall...
    By Patricia Infante | 3/14/2017
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  • Don't Leave Money on the Pew!

    Today, it's becoming less and less likely that people carry cash or checkbooks. Yet, the ritual of the offering plate continues, and it is less likely to be filled with spontaneous gifts. Some congregations have been paying attention to this trend, but has yours? Here are some...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 3/7/2017
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  • We Are Communities of Care

    One congregation's way of re-imagining Joys and Concerns.
    By UU Church of Akron, Fairlawn, OH, Renee Ruchotzke | 2/28/2017
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  • Serving as Leader: Effective Leadership in Small Congregations

    In this webinar, we will explore the role of leaders in a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We will offer some useful tools to help your leaders and your congregation to thrive.
    By Sarah Movius Schurr | 2/25/2017
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  • Just a Few Kids: Creative Strategies for Congregational Engagement

    How do you create a meaningful congregational experience when you've got a small number of kids in your congregation, few of whom are the same age?
    By Sarah Movius Schurr, Sarah Gibb Millspaugh | 2/25/2017
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  • Need More Volunteers? Maybe Your Bylaws Are The Problem...

    Consider making your governance committees leaner, so that more members are available to serve the ministries of the congregation.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 2/16/2017
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  • Compassionate Communication

    Discover ways we can engage with one another even when we disagree through compassionate communication. This tool can be applied in any meeting or in 1-1 relationships.
    By Carlton Elliott Smith | 1/10/2017
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  • Re-Invigorating Social Justice Ministries

    I've been hearing stories from different congregations where the Social Justice Ministries are re-inventing and re-invigorating themselves by finding out the potential sweet spot where the congregation's mission, capacity and will meets the needs and potential impact of the...
    By Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Renee Ruchotzke | 12/6/2016
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  • We are the Infrastructure of the Revolution

    Abridged Excerpt from “The Future of Justice Ministries” by Rev. David Pyle The Keynote for the UU Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network Annual Meeting 2016 I always default to hope. It is the most constant aspect of my personality. And yet, hope has seemed more difficult...
    By David Pyle | 11/12/2016
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  • Welcoming in an Unwelcoming World

    Following recent political changes and the social turmoil it has precipitated, UU Churches are experiencing an influx of first-time visitors and returning old friends. On social media, people are looking for community and are being pointed to our congregations. Gone are the days...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/11/2016
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  • The Bubble of Beloved Community

    Sometimes, living in a bubble can be a good thing. It can create a barrier between harmful things on the outside and precious things on the inside. In some ways, our congregational covenants operate in this way. They articulate that "in this community, this is how we will be...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/10/2016
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  • Stewardship Transitions for Small Congregations

    How can small congregations become aware of and adopt successful stewardship concepts and practices as they grow?
    By Jan Christian, Kay Crider | 10/1/2016
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  • Is Your Congregation Feeling Contractions?

    Is your congregation's attendance flat or declining? Are the results from your stewardship campaign disappointing? Are you dipping into an endowment to help cover your operating expenses? Are you thinking about cutting the budget by reducing the working hours of your program...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/2/2016
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  • Church Governance Should Serve, Not Rule

    Congregations often look to the corporate and not-for-profit worlds for models of leadership, organizational development, fundraising and volunteer management. Unfortunately, they also look there for models of governance to the detriment of their core purpose. Congregations are...
    By David Pyle | 4/15/2016
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  • Congregational Fitness for Ministry

    Given the increasing shortage of UU ministers, congregations might wish for a simple way to evaluate their own fitness for ministry. Ministers, likewise, might find an objective scale helpful in discerning whether a congregation is ready for them. This scale is similar to the...
    By Matthew Johnson | 3/26/2016
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  • Are Your Church's Retirement Benefits "Legal?"

    Congregations are legal entities required to comply with all sorts of legal requirements. While religious institutions might be exempt from a FEW legal requirements, churches are NOT exempt from most. This includes many requirements stemming from being an employer. This post...
    By Richard Nugent, UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Office of Church Staff Finances | 1/21/2016
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  • Sprucing Up Your Spiritual Hospitality

    I'm a "stealth greeter" in my home congregation. I go up to newcomers after a service and strike up a conversation about what brought them to church that day, and then I listen. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/12/2016
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  • One Bad Apple CAN Spoil the Whole Bunch

    The 1970's heart-throb boy band The Osmonds provided a disservice with their ear-worm hit song "One Bad Apple." They sang, ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/29/2015
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  • Keeping Your Laundry Out of the Living Room

    Belonging to and being a part of a community is an important aspect of congregational life. Many of our members think of their congregations as a second home and think of the other members as part of their extended family. The relationships that we create and nurture by sharing...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 9/23/2015
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  • Social Media Hygiene

    Social media is a great outreach tool for today's congregations, but congregational leaders need to be savvy about how to balance the open-source nature of today's interactive internet with the need to articulate a consistent message in alignment with your congregation's mission...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 9/16/2015
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  • Covenantal Faith in a Transactional World

    Because our congregations run on money, it's tempting to bring--along with it--assumptions about how money operates in other parts of our lives. We go to work and we get a paycheck. We pay the electric bill and the power company keeps our lights on. We pay at the first window...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 9/1/2015
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  • Self-Differentiated Leadership

    Self-differentiated Leaders know who they are well enough that they also know where they stand, and what they will and will not do; they understand the necessity of boundaries, and work within the congregation to ensure that healthy boundaries are in place and are supported;...
    By Nancy Heege, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 8/1/2015
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  • Worst Case Scenarios...and How to Be Prepared

    The phone rings. There is an anxious board president on the phone with a crisis on their hands. Perhaps their minister has fallen seriously ill, or there is a member who is regularly disrupting the Sunday worship service, or a registered sex offender has expressed interest in...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/25/2015
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  • Congregational Polity and the Myth of Congregational Autonomy

    Congregational polity is not fundamentally about autonomy or protecting individuals from spiritual coercion. This understanding repels healthy people, weakens connections among churches, and perpetuates widespread suspicion about leadership. This workshop lays groundwork for a...
    By Sue Phillips, New England Region of the UUA | 6/27/2015
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  • Sunrise, Sunset: Generational Trends in Stewardship

    Many of our "solid" congregations noticed a drop-off in giving that was not a result of a drop-off of membership during the past two or three years. We don't have much data (the trend is too new) but we do have some anecdotal information that seems to align with greater...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/12/2015
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  • Committee, Team or Task Force?

    As we re-imagine how to do the work of a congregation, we need to take into account that younger folks (and by "younger" I mean people under 50) are wary of making commitments without fully understanding the implications. These people want to feel like they are making a...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/6/2015
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  • Want to Develop Church Leaders? Stop Training Them!

    Let me share a fable of two congregations. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/12/2015
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  • The End of Strategic Planning

    Smaller congregations in many denominations are struggling to survive. This doesn't mean they are necessarily "doing church" badly. But it does mean they need to do church differently. Intuiting this need, church leaders often begin gearing up for a strategic planning process....
    By Douglas Zelinski, New England Region of the UUA | 3/18/2015
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  • …And That’s Where the Magic Happens

    It usually starts with one person with the beginning of an audacious idea. It has enough form so that others can visualize the possibilities. It also has enough open possibilities that others can see where they can bring their creativity and energy to help co-create it. And...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 3/4/2015
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  • Putting on the Membership Apron

    What does it mean to be a member in a congregation? How much can we ask of members? I believe that membership should signify a commitment to the congregation and it's mission as expressed by the Rev. Michael Piazza. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 2/19/2015
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  • Thinking About Our Thinking

    In dealing with adaptive challenges (e.g. changing demographics or attitudes toward religious institutions) congregational leaders can learn some wisdom from the old folktale about the 7 Blind Men and the Elephant . Each of the men could feel a part of the creature, and each...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/20/2015
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  • If the Buddha Was "In Search..."

    It's the beginning of the year, and Ministerial Search Committees have just received a list of names of ministers who are interested in learning more about their congregation. Savvy Search Committees know that they are looking for a good match, not a perfect candidate, and the...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/5/2015
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  • Let Me Sleep on It...

    The congregational meeting was held right after the Sunday service to guarantee a quorum. There were a couple of important issues to discuss, including passing a deficit budget to help fund a part time membership coordinator in service of their desire for growth. Standard...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/22/2014
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  • Reflections on Right Relationship

    We often hear the question, "Is there a spiritual practice that is particularly Unitarian Universalist?" I believe that there is—living into our covenantal relationships. Being in community can be challenging. But being in a faith community can give us the opportunity to explore...
    By David A Miller | 11/4/2014
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  • There's a Hole in the Bucket...

    It happens more often than you think it should. The church seems to be vital, even growing, but the money in the collection plate doesn't keep up with the growth, or there seems to be a shortfall every month. There might be grumbling about how the new folks aren't pulling their...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/14/2014
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  • Announcements: A Terrible Death to Die

    I remember my first church family camp, the Ohio Meadville Summer Institute . At the end of the morning worship, one of the planning committee members would go up to the podium and start singing: Announcements, Announcements, An-NOW-ounce-ments! A terrible death to die, a...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 9/5/2014
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  • 5 Shades of Ministry

    I've spent most of my summer working with different programs and events that help to grow lay leaders in our faith. I have had the blessing of encountering dozens of earnest, committed and evangelical lay leaders wanting to spread the good news of our liberal faith. Ministry...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 8/6/2014
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  • Art Doesn’t Happen by Committee – Part 2

    I had just finished leading a worship service as a guest preacher. This congregation had been experiencing a gentle decline in membership over the past decade. Several congregants came up to me afterward and exclaimed, "It was wonderful how the music, the readings and the...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/7/2014
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  • World Café: An Exercise for Vision Discernment

    A wonderful exercise to elicit emerging ideas and to discover where the energy resides in a large group.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/26/2014
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