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  • Whole Congregation Discernment

    There are times when the congregation needs to engage in a process that will enable the congregation to reflect on its future in an organic, open and creative way—as a system. (Traditional congregational meetings do not lend themselves to such a process—they are better suited to...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/31/2017
  • Characteristics of Decentralized Governance

    How to create a congregation where people are equipped and empowered to live out the mission through ministry.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 10/31/2017
  • Duties of a Board

    Congregational boards hold the authority and responsibility for the congregation as an institution, as designated in the bylaws. Though comprised of individuals, the board must operate as a single entity in service of the mission of the congregation. In other words, individual...
    By Renee Ruchotzke, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 9/15/2017
  • Being a Learning Community

    Congregational leaders today are facing challenges that have no easy answers or quick fixes. Developing practices that enable the congregation to use its collective wisdom to experiment with different ideas and approaches. Understand Your Congregation as a System Systems theory...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group, Renee Ruchotzke | 9/13/2017
  • Congregational Policies and Procedures - An Overview

    Congregational bylaws, which lay the foundation for the congregation as a legal entity, are augmented by other documents that guide the day-to-day operations and decisions of the leaders and members of the congregation. Policies Policies are voted on by the board of trustees...
  • Congregational Bylaws - An Overview

    Bylaws are important in laying the groundwork for any organization. Although written in legal language to satisfy governmental requirements, bylaws also tell the story of a congregation. They encapsulate the vision, hopes, and dreams of the congregation and are also a last...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 9/12/2017
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Speaking with One Voice

    One of the most important keys to congregational health and vitality--along with a clear purpose--is a cohesive leadership team.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 9/19/2013
  • Putting the "Shared" in Shared Ministry

    One of the most important factors in a vibrant congregation is a high level of covenantal trust between the minister and the lay leaders. When I say covenantal, I intentionally mean the promises made between the leaders and members and in service to that which is greater than...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/10/2013
  • 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
  • Financial Barriers to Leadership

    "Volunteering to host coffee hour is a great way for newer folks to get involved." "We used to have potluck dinners, but we have so many dinners offered in our service auction that we don't seem to have the interest to plan potlucks anymore." "Attending Leadership School helped...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/16/2012
  • Bored with Board Retreats?

    Are you planning a board or leadership retreat for the fall? Do you want something engaging and relevant to the challenges you are facing this upcoming year? Here are some ready-to use resources for you! ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 8/21/2012
  • All the world's a game....

    All the world's a game....and we are just players... This paraphrase of the line from Shakespeare's As You Like It comes to mind as I am reading Jane McGonigal's book...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/23/2012
  • To Be “Bona Fide” - Authenticity as a Way Toward Growth

    There has been a lot of press lately about Generation Y—often referred to as the Millennials—since they started to come of age around the year 2000. It’s a generation that doesn’t fit the old stereotype of rebellious youth that began with the Baby Boomers; articulated in the...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/28/2012
  • Hacking into Congregational Leadership

    I've seen a disconnect between generations in our congregations when it comes to leadership. Baby Boomers, who populate the majority of our leadership positions, ask me how they can recruit more younger people for their volunteer positions. Younger Generation Xers and...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/1/2012
  • Mental Models in a Changing World

    The world around us is changing at an exponential rate, so it is often difficult to respond to the new reality. What is true for individuals is even more true for institutions, including our “living tradition” Unitarian Universalist congregations. I’m not saying this to scold or...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/31/2012
  • For Nominating Committees: Leadership Development 2.0

    What is the future of Unitarian Universalist congregations? Are we slowly declining, as hinted at in the article UUA membership and attendance declined in 2011 in the UU World? Or are we at the cusp of societal changes where we can be A Religion for Our Time ? I believe that...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/21/2012
  • Archiving Church Records: What Items to Keep and How to Catalogue Them

    Church members generally agree that saving church records is a good thing – but the reality of doing that raises a number of questions. Which items should be saved, and by extension, is it okay to throw some items out?
    By Kathleen Parker, Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society, Inc. | 3/27/2011
  • Before and After: What Board Meetings Look Like with Carver style Policy-Based Governance

    Sample Scripts from the 2009 UU University Governance Track.
    By Robert L. Eller-Isaacs, Laura Park | 6/20/2009
  • Mission Statement Tips

    Mission speaks to the congregation’s calling, the source of its integrity and it’s central reason for being. What are we called to be and do?
    By Douglas Zelinski | 3/16/2009
  • Congregational Polity for the Over-Extended Lay Leader

    Even without a clear shared theology, Unitarian Universalists have a clear shared polity, or governance structure, that helps to inform our theology. This overview summarizes why our polity is essential to who we are.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 3/15/2008
  • The Participation Pyramid

    Why don't we have more people getting involved? It turns out that this is typical for congregregations that have plateaued in size.
    By Stefan Jonasson | 6/17/2006
  • The Size and Shape of Governance

    Five key components needed in the governance system of congregations, including visioning, coordinating, planning, training and implementing.
    By Stefan Jonasson | 5/15/2006
  • The Case against Church School Fees

    How might fees for Sunday School impact your congregation?
    By Stefan Jonasson | 3/19/2006
  • Sample Visioning Process: Guided Imagery for a Group

    This process can be run in a morning, afternoon, or a longish evening. The program works well with teenagers on up to seniors.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/16/2005
  • Behavioral Covenants in Congregations

    Learning to practicie helpful and healthy behaviors allows us to act on our stated beliefs and values.
    By Qiyamah Rahman | 6/11/2005
  • Governance and Congregational Size

    All congregations must understand that the instruments of congregational polity will vary with the size of the congregation. The practices of governance must be suited to the characteristics of the individual congregation.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/1/2005
  • Governance: A Historical Perspective

    An overview of how UU governance developed over time.
  • Why Governance? An Overview

    Governance is the system by which a congregation exercises its authority. A congregation may use any system to govern itself; it may change systems frequently or entirely ignore the systems it claims as its own, but as long as the congregation lives, it will continue to exercise...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/1/2005
  • Make Guiding Documents Living Documents

    The vision, mission, covenant and other guiding documents can be incorporated into the life of the congregation in an unlimited number of ways in order to keep them in front of the members. The following are some suggestions:
  • Revisiting Guiding Documents

    To keep your mission, vision, covenant and other guiding documents relevant, it's helpful to revisit them every 5-7 years.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 3/18/2005
  • Vision Statement Tips

    Vision statements need to be useful to the leaders. Effective vision statements tend to have common characteristics.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 3/16/2005
  • Consensus Model of Decision-Making: An Overview

    A consensus decision-making model empowers participants to cooperate with one another in order to reach an outcome that is in the best interest of the group as a whole and that furthers the group’s stated purpose.
    By First Parish in Lexington, Lexington, MA | 3/15/2005
  • Reconciliation As a Spiritual Practice

    When we engage in reconciliation--which is different than an apology or forgiveness--we invite change that will transform a relationship.
    By Paula Cole Jones | 2/15/2004
  • Board-Staff Relations in Healthy Congregations

    Establishing good communication practices and healthy boundaries are essential to attracting and keeping good staff. This article gives an overview of good practices, with special tips for congregations of various sizes.
    By Stefan Jonasson | 6/1/2003


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