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  • Ministerial Relations Committees

    Many congregations have a committee to assist and work with the professional minister or ministers. An older model is the Ministerial Relations Committee.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/18/2019
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  • Let’s You and They Fight: Triangulation

    Whenever two parts of a system become uncomfortable with one another, they will turn their focus to a third person or issue as a way to stabilize their own relationship with one another.
    By Kenneth Hurto | 3/22/2019
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  • Rude Awakenings: Practicing Civility in Our Congregations

    Is rudeness a quality of Unitarian Universalism? How else to explain the lack of hospitality exhibited by many congregations toward unbidden guests? This workshop will explore the prevalence of rudeness in our society, how it is seeping through the walls of our congregations,...
    By Mark Bernstein | 3/19/2019
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  • Keep Your Communication Channels Open!

    With so many ways to mis-communicate and mis-understand in our congregations, we need to develop healthy communication habits and norms.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/29/2018
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  • Triangulation and other Systems Thinking Concepts

    S-H-I-F-T is a way to remember the basics of emotional systems (Self-Differientation, Homeostasis, Identified patient, emotional Familiy field, and Triagulation) and how they operatin in congregations.
    By Connie Goodbread | 11/19/2018
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  • Disagreement, Dissent and Creative Conflict

    Learning how to be in community with people who have different opinions or experiences is essential in UU congregations.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/19/2018
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  • Self-Differientiated 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 | 4/19/2018
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  • Self-Knowing Leadership

    Leaders know where their buttons are, and know how to manage their own anxiety; they recognize that anxiety serves little purpose in moving a congregation forward, and instead can lessen that anxiety and help the congregation focus on the issues involved, rather than the anxiety...
    By Lisa Presley, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/19/2018
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  • Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

    Leaders know how to read people emotionally, and how to help people feel safe enough to not be driven unconsciously by emotions. Leaders help people understand how to appropriately express emotions and to use them as forces to move the congregation forward, rather than trapping...
    By Dori Davenport Thexton, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/19/2018
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  • Emotional Intelligence for Leadership Development

    Being aware of one's own emotions and how they influence judgment enables a leader to avoid being reactive when making decisions. Learning how to manage one's emotions helps a leader make decisions responsively and responsibly.
    By Renee Ruchotzke, Central East Region of the UUA | 4/19/2018
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  • Anxiety and the Brain

    Learn how the human brain is impacted by anxiety in organizations like congregations.
    3/16/2018
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  • The Peril of Anonymous Feedback

    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...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 2/28/2018
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  • A Quick Look at Written Congregational Surveys

    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...
    By Jan Christian, Pacific Western Region of the UUA | 2/2/2018
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  • Handling Difficult Behavior in Meetings

    Learn about some common difficult meeting behaviors and a few strategies to cope with them.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 11/3/2017
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  • Dealing with Conflict in Meetings

    Learn about how to prevent destructive conflict in meetings by nurturing a culture that promotes respectful communication and creative interchange.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 11/3/2017
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  • Creative Inclusion

    Become more informed about and more comfortable with neuro-diversity (autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc) so that we can more fully live into a practice of radical welcome. With Linette Lowe(2015).
    By MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 9/1/2017
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • You are not the boss of me!

    My father-in-law was a no-nonsense businessman who worked a 600 acre farm. Fiercely independent, he liked to play by his own rules. When he bought a new piece of machinery, he would remove all of the pesky shields and other safety devices that slowed him down or got in the way...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/23/2014
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  • Art Doesn't Happen by Committee - Part 1

    Once upon a time there was a congregation that wanted a mission statement. They appointed a committee that worked hard. They held cottage meetings, World Café conversations, and got a real sense of the identity of the congregation, who they were as a "whole"—or their "center."...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/7/2014
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  • Adaptive Measures

    Your congregation is committed to growth and understands that growth in numbers results from other kinds of growth. You also know it is important to set goals and measure how well you are doing. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 12/18/2013
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  • Committee on Shared Ministry

    How do Committees on Ministry function? Rev. Nancy Bowen shares an overview.
    By Nancy Bowen, Pacific Western Region of the UUA | 11/13/2013
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  • Show and "Tells"

    "Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can hardly hear what you are saying." This is a quote from a webinar on the presence of leaders that I took recently. A leader's presence reflects their underlying values—it's how they wear their values. A leader with integrity embodies...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/31/2013
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  • Here Comes the Judge! Learning to Cultivate Curiousity...

    I grew up eating a lot of ethnic northern European foods. I would often get comments in the workplace lunch room about the leftovers I had brought in that day. I remember one comment about "what a strange food combination" I was eating (sauerkraut with a dollop of sour...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/26/2013
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  • Measure in Church Time Dog Years

    Church leaders that I work with are often frustrated with the slow, almost glacial speed of change in congregational life. What might take a month or two in the workplace takes a year in the church. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/28/2013
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  • Avoiding Drama Trauma - Part 2

    Here are some more tips for the savvy leader to learn how to recognize and respond to drama both in themselves and others. (adapted from the book The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers and Boss by Jim Warner & Kaley Klemp). ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 12/11/2012
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  • Avoiding Drama Trauma - Part 1

    Because of our strong attachments in our congregational communities, emotions can run high during times of change. The energy produced can be creative or destructive. The savvy leader learns to recognize emerging drama both in themselves and others—and more importantly, learns...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 12/4/2012
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  • The "Snap" of Emotional Triggers

    As we head into the holiday season, it's a good time to bring attention to the practice of self-management. Time together with relatives often elicits old memories and deep emotions. The practice begins by first becoming self-aware when ugly emotions start to swell up and our...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/20/2012
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  • Outrage, Not Anger

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    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/30/2012
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  • The Free *and* Responsible UU

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    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/18/2012
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  • Leadership "Cairns" for Next Generation

    I spent several days hiking in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia for my vacation. (It was a good opportunity to get away from the technology that is my constant companion during the rest of the year, since there are few cell phone towers in those mountains.) Many...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/6/2012
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  • Shadows and Light

    One of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs (YouTube) begins: Every picture has its shadows And it has some source of light Blindness, blindness and sight… When I talk about leadership qualities, I find that many of the qualities can be either strengths or weaknesses—or somewhere on...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/21/2012
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  • Drawing the Line - Disruptive Behavior Policies and Procedures

    This webinar helps leaders discern how to separate disruptive behaviors from persons to create a peaceful community.
    By Renee Ruchotzke, Central East Region of the UUA | 8/17/2011
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  • Untangling Conversations: A Drive Time Essay

    Too often our leaders lead from unexamined fear and frustration. We need to lead from our hopes as embodied in the vision of the Beloved Community.
    By Paula Cole Jones | 2/23/2009
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  • Return to Covenant: A Drive Time Essay

    No person is perfect. How do we ask each other to return to covenant when someone makes a mistake?
    By Karen Brammer | 2/15/2009
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  • Making the Leap with Fear and Trepidation: A Drive Time Essay on Emotional Systems

    Emotions play a major role in the leadership of congregations, and if we do not take that into consideration as leaders, we will walk into situations that tear at the fabric of communal life and possibly thwart any growth that had been planned.
    By Richard Speck | 2/15/2009
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  • Some Basic Advice on Triangulation

    In the 1950s the family therapist Murray Bowen introduced many ideas about systems. The concept of triangulation is one of the most applicable to congregational leadership. It is, in brief, when John is frustrated with or concerned about Mary, John looks to Jane to deal with...
    By Ian Evison, Kenneth Hurto | 6/12/2007
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