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  • Got New Staff? Set Them Up For Success!

    Get your new employees off to a healthy, happy start every time! Learn about formal administrative onboarding and proven practices for welcoming and orienting staff.
    By Jan Gartner, Lisa Presley | 6/22/2016
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Clergy Tax Status, Explained

    Ministerial compensation is quite confusing. What do congregations and clergy need to know about clergy taxes?
    By Richard Nugent | 8/1/2015
  • 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
  • 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.
    By Sue Phillips, New England Region of the UUA | 6/27/2015
  • 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
  • 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
  • Want to Develop Church Leaders? Stop Training Them!

    Let me share a fable of two congregations. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/12/2015
  • Chalice Fonts

    Download chalice fonts for Mac or PC to use in your publications
    By Henning Hraban Ramm, Steve Bridenbaugh | 4/17/2015
  • 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
  • …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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Give Yourself the Gift of Professional Development

    What is “professional development?" Why is it essential? How do you choose and fund professional development activities and fit them into your schedule?
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Multi-Site Ministry: Lowering the Walls Between Us

    Satellites, multi-site, yolked ministries and partnerships can explored by all types of congregations - tiny, large, urban, rural, clustered, or isolated. Might multi-site be right for you?
    By Scott Tayler, Tandi Rogers | 6/27/2014
  • Living Your Purpose III: Making Mission & Vision Stick

    How do we design and support congregational systems that help us live into our mission and vision? Using guiding "ministry action statements," goal-setting, and assessment to keep its mission and vision vital and effective.
    By Kathy McGowan, Renee Ruchotzke, UU Congregation of Binghamton, Binghamton, NY | 6/26/2014
  • 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
  • Living Your Purpose II: Aspirational Values and Vision

    Once a congregation understands its mission, the next step is to discern how it wants to deepen and grow as a congregation. This workshop outlines processes for discerning aspirational values and ways to create and use a vision statement in devising a strategic plan and annual...
    By Patricia Infante, Douglas Taylor, UU Congregation of Binghamton, Binghamton, NY | 6/26/2014
  • Living Your Purpose I: Core Values and Mission

    Purpose-filled people are misson-driven. Workshop participants will explore discerning congregational core values, how to articulate them as mission, and how to make a mission "portable" to provide alignment for all of its ministries, strategies, and resource allocation.
    By Joe Sullivan, UU Congregation of Binghamton, Binghamton, NY, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/26/2014
  • 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 | 6/26/2014
  • 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
  • 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
  • UUA Colors and Design Elements

    Customize your graphics with the color palette and downloadable design elements.
    By UUA Program and Strategy: Outreach Office | 5/6/2014
  • Do you have "Committee Alphabet Soup?"

    I often use General Motors as an example of the top-down model of organization and leadership that is the opposite of what our congregations need to be nimble and vital (and I might add, attractive to Gen-Xers and Millennials). A story from Bloomberg "GM Recalls Stalled in 10...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 3/13/2014
  • Think "Strategic," Not "Long-Range"

    There is a quote that guides me in my work: “We create the path by walking.” How many of us knew exactly who or what we wanted to be when we “grew up?” Instead, many of us made choices that led us in a certain direction. As we started down a particular path, our choices helped...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/21/2014
  • Do You Have Zombie Programs?

    The new year offers a new opportunity to take stock of how your congregation is serving its mission. Invite your leadership team to take stock of your current program offerings. Is the program bringing in new life in the form of new participants? Is the program a brain-drain or...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/7/2014
  • 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
  • The Gift of Being Called

    It was mid-afternoon and my sixth grade classmates and I were in the middle of a lesson. Suddenly, the deep voice of the principal boomed over the loudspeaker. “Mr. Doyle, I need your help. Mrs. Jones will be out the rest of the day and I need someone to be in the office to...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 12/3/2013
  • You Talkin' to Me? Targeting Your Communications

    As leaders of a congregation, it may be tempting to assume everyone else has (or should have) the same level of commitment to the institution of the church as we have. This can have unfortunate results in everything from volunteer recruitment to stewardship conversations--even...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/19/2013
  • The Dance of Shared Ministry

    I'm sharing my "charge to the congregation" for the installation of Rev. Meredith Garmon at the Community Unitarian Church of White Plains, NY on November 10, 2013. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/14/2013
  • 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
  • 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
  • Could the "Nones" Become Unitarian Universalists? Part 2

    The descriptions of the values of many "spiritual but not religious" people line up pretty nicely with what our UU religious communities could be, or at least what they should at least aspire to be. We have young adult UUs living out UU values in newly-formed "beyond...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/17/2013
  • Could the "Nones" become Unitarian Universalists? Part 1

    Young Adult ministry has been a challenge for congregations of all liberal protestant denominations for decades but the game is changing in ways we couldn't have imagined back in the post WWII church building boom. There has been a lively conversation on the UU-Leaders email...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/16/2013


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