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  • Leadership for the Future: A New Leadership Development Paradigm

    The MidAmerica program staff have been discussing the changing state of leadership, congregational life, and our world. We’ve realized that as we move further into the 21st century, our work has to shift. No longer can we simply teach particular skills based on the tools we know...
    By MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/19/2018
  • Management Skills for Leadership Development

    Congregational Management involves making sure that meetings are run well, good records are kept, yearly goals are set and the policies and procedures are being followed.
    By Renee Ruchotzke, Central East Region of the UUA | 4/12/2018
  • Skills to Grow Other Leaders

    Skills to grow other leaders include a generosity of spirit, commitment to shared ministry, identifying and developing training experiences, supporting development of new leaders.
    By Renee Ruchotzke, Central East Region of the UUA | 4/12/2018
  • Involve People into Roles that Best Match Their Gifts and Calling

    Every one-to-one recruitment invitation should include these four major components which are based on paying attention to the individual and building authentic relationship.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 4/6/2018
  • The 5 "I's" of Leadership Development

    Leadership Development should be an ongoing process in your congregation that includes the following practices: Identify, Invite, Inform, Involve and Inquire.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 4/6/2018
  • Mission-Focused Leadership Development

    Faith communities function best when they have a clear understanding of why they exist and where they are going next. Leaders help to articulate the mission and lead toward the vision.
    By Renee Ruchotzke, Central East Region of the UUA | 4/5/2018
  • Two Services - Considering, Doing, Thriving!

    Out of space? Good for you! Here are some things to think about and plan for. Going to two services offers advantages beyond solving space problems. It offers choices in service timing, for instance. This might seem like a small matter at this point, but congregations who shrink...
    By Christine C. Robinson, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/3/2018
    Filed in: LeaderLab
  • 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
  • When Members Become Employees

    When a congregation is in search for a new professional staff member to fill a key and important role in the congregation, whether it is that of a custodian or that of a membership director, an important consideration is how well potential applicants understand and have personal...
    By David Pyle | 2/25/2018
  • How to Design a Congregational Staff Retreat

    One of the keys to a healthy congregational staff team is that they understand themselves as a team. Congregational staff members often relate more with lay-leaders in their particular program or operational areas more often than they do other staff members, and this can easily...
    By David Pyle | 2/25/2018
  • Five Strategic Tasks of a Governing Board

    After a congregational governing board has begun to transition the operations and management of a congregation out of the governing board and towards the congregational staff or a lay and staff leadership team, I will regularly receive the same question from congregational...
    By David Pyle | 2/25/2018
  • Great Teams Make Great Boards

    Congregational boards are intended to provide collective discernment;rather than be a forum for competing interests or agendas. Faithful boards arein alignment with and accountable to the mission and vision of the congregation.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 2/14/2018
  • Confidentiality and Healthy Disclosure for Boards

    Balancing transparency and confidentiality can be challenging for congregational board members, staff, and other leaders who have access to sensitive information. Healthy, vibrant systems need as much open communication as possible. White Supremacy Culture sometimes uses "the...
    2/9/2018
  • How to “Right Size” a Governing Board

    Congregational Governing Boards have different structures, cultures, assumptions, and responsibilities in different congregations. The size and structure of a governing board is dependent upon the roles and responsibilities of the board itself. Here are a series of factors that...
    By David Pyle | 2/9/2018
  • Navigating Size Transitions in the Midsize Congregation

    ( Atlanta, GA, 2000 ) Following a morning worship service, Alban Institute consultant Alice Mann was introduced to lead the day's learning experience on "Navigating Change in the Midsize Congregation." Mann, the author of "The In-Between Church," is an Episcopal priest who has...
    By Alice Mann, Deborah Weiner | 1/17/2018
  • Develop Leadership Development Teams, Not Just "Nominating Committees"

    Sustainable leadership development cannot be reactive to these kinds of crises. Leadership Development should be an ongoing process in your congregation that includes the following practices: Identify, Invite, Inform, Involve and Inquire.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/16/2018
  • Safe from Harm

    This webinar will introduce you to resources to prepare and respond to a variety of situations that put your community at risk. We’ll touch on how to open up a non-anxious dialogue within the congregation, the role of the board in creating clear policies, and how to effectively...
    By Patricia Infante, Lisa Presley | 12/15/2017
  • Planning Teacher Training and Development

    Every RE program should provide annual training and guidance for their volunteer staff before heading back to the classroom in the fall. We'll look at sample agendas, suggested content, and ways to make important event fun and engaging day for all. 2014
    By Patricia Infante | 12/14/2017
  • RE Volunteer Recruitment and Enrichment

    Finding the right volunteer for the job and providing ongoing training so that they feel competent and confident is an important piece of the recruitment puzzle. We'll look at some strategies and tips for recruiting and equipping a 21st century volunteer. (2014)
    By Patricia Infante | 12/14/2017
  • Self Care for Board Members

    Serving on a congregational board can be both rewarding and stressful. Some stress is natural, but certain kinds of stress can lead to burn-out. It's important for board to develop a culture that supports board members in their work as well as in their own growth and development...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 11/16/2017
  • Tools and Methods to Keep Meetings Fresh and Effective

    A wide assortment of tools and methods can enhance a meeting’s productivity and enjoyment. (Yes, most meetings can be fun!) Below are a few suggestions. ...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 11/3/2017
  • Meeting Preparation

    Planning well in advance enables leaders to relax and be more present at the actual event, in addition to creating a comfortable environment for participants. The following are nine key areas to consider in preparing meetings. ...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 11/3/2017
  • Maximizing Participation in Meetings

    If meetings are to be truly meaningful and transformational, it is crucial to involve participants fully. Read eleven ways to maximize participation.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 11/3/2017
  • Meetings 101

    Learn more about the some of the basic components and concepts pertaining to meetings, together with the definitions of these terms.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 11/2/2017
  • Spiritual Practices Create Spiritual Homes

    How often do you introduce spiritual practice when your youth gather? If you are a religious educator or volunteer, make every effort to ensure that each gathering of your young ones taps into the spirit. That by the time these limitless spirits bridge from your program, they...
    By Eric Bliss | 9/18/2017
    Filed in: Youth Ministry
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Volunteer Roles: Your Trash, Another's Treasure

    How do we find volunteers for the different jobs in our congregation? How do we fire a volunteer who doesn't perform? How do we renew a committee stuck in stale ideas and that repels any new committee members and their potential energy? Volunteer recruitment and dealing with...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/23/2013
  • Radical Relationship II: The Theology of Covenant

    Our choice to organize around our promises among ourselves and with that which invokes our ultimate commitment is our greatest strength. Using Process Theology, we offer a framework as well as practical spiritual practices showing how living in covenant can create space for...
    By Renee Ruchotzke, Jeanelyse Doran Adams, Douglas Zelinski | 6/21/2013
  • 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
  • The Power of Symbolic Language

    Unitarian Universalists tend to use a lot of words when we attempt to explain our religious beliefs and values. We have a complicated faith that does not fit into typical questions about religion from outsiders. This makes sense at a national level. We have a big tent that makes...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 4/9/2013
  • Meetings that Matter

    I have a love-hate relationship with meetings. Some of my best experiences have been when I was in a room with engaged, creative people doing important work or solving a difficult challenge. Some of my worst experiences have been when I was in a room where people talked at--or...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 2/26/2013
  • Outrage, Not Anger

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

    ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/18/2012
  • Tip: Recruiting Volunteers

    One of the most frequent requests we hear from congregational leaders is: "How do we recruit fresh volunteers?" Our religious educators have a lot of experience since they need to recruit a multitude of teachers each year. The religious educator from my home congregation is a...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/25/2012
  • 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
  • Media Skills for Changemakers

    This video provides insight on how to generate effective media coverage of social justice advocacy. It includes how reporters make news judgments, how to interview effectively, and how to frame events to secure coverage and rally support.
    By Helio Fred Garcia | 6/28/2011

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