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Leadership Development Programs in Your Congregation
Leadership Development

Leadership Development Teams, Not Just "Nominating Committees"

(Note: Detailed information is available in the UU Leadership Institute's on-demand course Passing the Torch (free registration required): Creating a Leadership Development Program in Your Congregation.)

Many of the congregations who approach Congregational Life staff about leadership development are under stress. They might have a nominating committee that is unable to fill all of the slots before the congregational annual meeting, They may have experienced a crisis because they had leaders in important roles who were not equipped to serve in that capacity during a time of conflict or change. They may have a leadership group that is burned out but no one else is ready to step in. 

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: Who is Called to be a Leader?

Your Leadership Development Team should have several practices and strategies that enable them to identify potential leaders, especially from groups that may be at the margins (young adults, people of color). Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend newcomer classes.
  • Talk to small group ministry leaders.
  • Hold a ministry fair in the congregation. Enable people to learn more about ways to serve in a fun and festive atmosphere. This provides a transparent, low-risk way for people to explore service.
  • Ask the "connectors" in the congregation to act as scouts for potential leaders.

Invite: Help Potential Leaders Discern Their Gifts

  • Schedule one-on-ones with members of the congregation to ask them about their passions and how they might be engaged with the mission and vision of the congregation.
  • Schedule leadership discovery events.
  • Encourage each leader and potential leaders to develop a personal leadership inventory and learning/serving plan.
  • Create leadership study groups where members create relationships of accountability around their learning and serving.

Inform: Help Equip Your Leaders with Training and Formation Opportunities

Involve: Help Leaders Find a Way to Serve the Ministry that Best Matches Their Gifts and Calling

  • Connect the volunteer role to the ministry goals or vision.
  • Share why you are inviting this particular person.
  • Accurately describe the position.

Inquire: Create a Culture of Creativity

  • Use an ongoing, appreciative assessment tool (in partnership with your Committee on Shared Ministry, if you have one) to help leaders see how well they are serving the ministries and mission of the congregation.
  • Use mistakes as an opportunity for learning, not blaming.
  • Make space for “volunteer sabbaticals.”

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For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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