Thursday, November 10, 2005

Get rid of the GAP, Strengthen our faith

A number of years ago I worked on the UUA's Youth and Young Adult Sunday campaign. The slogan Alison Miller and I developed was "MIND THE GAP!" It was a reference to the gap in our ministry between our ministry with children and adults. Our Youth and Young Adult ministries have come so far over the past five years, but there is much to do.

I think SMALL GROUP MINISTRY is going to be an essential part of our movement moving forward and addressing the deficiencies in our ministry with UU's of all ages. Personally, I have worked with children, youth, young adults, adults and elders. I've seen small groups and intentional leadership development save lives.

One youth I worked with took two years to open up. One day he shared that our group -- which was structured like a small group ministry session -- was where he felt most himself. He told us and later his parents that his mission in life was to BE like he was in our small group EVERYWHERE in his life. Small groups are the foundation of the relational congregations that our members young and old are hungry for.

THIS YEAR our association is trying to figure out how to strengthen our youth ministry. I think we should use our learnings from our small group ministry movement and apply them to our youth, campus, young adult and adult ministries. When these all come into alignment we will no longer have to worry about MINDING the GAP, we'll have eliminated it all together. There is only a gap when we do different things with each age group. Why not small group ministry with all who have come of age in our congregations.

Obviously I've got a strong opinion. Here's a question for you. DO YOU EVEN CARE? If you do then we've got a great opportunity and a great future ahead of us.

This year ALL of our congregations have been asked to hold a meeting to explore our youth ministry. There are resources being developed to help you do this. I'd like you to print out the following resource and MAKE SURE that someone in your congregation takes responsibility for planning a your conversation. YOU DO NOT have to do this. Just make sure that someone else does.


It is the November issue of the Consultation on Youth Ministry newsletter. It contains the basic info you need to HAND OFF to someone.

THANK YOU in advance for passing this 1 sheet of paper on to a caring and responsible member of your congregation.

In faith,

For even more info on this visit the following

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New U-TURN ministry retreat

This Fall at UU PLANET Ministry and Media our focus has been on research, study and planning related to our efforts to MOVE our MOVEMENT. Now that church is well under way its time to kick some liberal religious ASSumptions!

We believe there are many assumptions underlying our UU ways that are holding us back. Our favorite definition of "EMPOWERMENT" is to remove the blocks keeping people from being successful. Our faith has some major blocks standing in the way of realizing our potential.

UU PLANET has designed a facilitated ministry retreat to explore these assymptions and to turn our ministry inside out and upside down. This program is called The U-Turn. It is focused on getting to the heart of what staff, volunteers (a.k.a. staff pay grade zero), members and those we're trying to reach care about. Think of it as an alignment for your church. Get back to the heart and move forward with determination! No more lurching from side to side, bad vibrations and complaints.

Sound exciting? It is. And we are now scheduling U-TURN ministry retreats in the New England region for this Winter and Spring. Have a scheduled staff, board, cluster, UUMA, or LREDA retreat?

Email me or call 401 855-0037 to discuss making it a U- TURN ministry retreat.

PS -- Please note that BORING and UNPRODUCTIVE leadership retreats is one of the things that led me to becoming a UU consultant/trainer. PLEASE do not subject your people to another bad retreat.

Who's On The Line?

When I call a church where I will be leading a training or am guest speaking I always note the quality of the call. Periodically the phone is answered by a staff member who is undermining the growth of the congregation one phone call at a time.

Answering a church phone is important work. People call our congregations with real needs. They don't just want the facts, they want some love! Whether they realize it or not, people judge the atmosphere of your congregation by how the phone is handled.

In addition, what they know is important. Last year I was sitting in a church waiting to guest speak on Small Group Ministry. I heard the administrative assistant say to a caller, "No, we don't have small group ministry. Sorry." Daring to be a bit rude I jumped up and called that small group ministry was the focus of the service that day and that the church was looking into launching just such a program. He had not read the congregations newsletter and was unaware of the sermon topic or the efforts of their small group ministry team.

Remember, you hired your staff.
You pay them.
Take the time to train them.

Email me for training & speaking inquiries

Your Image Online

A.k.a. - why you can't afford a crappy website.

If you are looking to grow your church, start with your website. Why there?

Because it is the easiest way to make a change and get great results. Does your website mirror the image, tone and character of your congregation? Does it communicate who you are as a community?It should. Your website is the internet extension of your congregation. Again, people make judgments on limited information. People will skip going to your church in a heartbeat if your website stinks.

If you want to grow, you can't afford to have a crappy website.

Try this. Look at your church website from the perspective of someone who has never been to a church before, doesn't know what to wear, doesn't know when the service is, what it is about, if they'll fit in, how to get there, whether you're a cult or not, and is just looking for some reason NOT to go because they are just TOO nervous and going to church is just TOO risky.

Design your site for that person and you'll get more visitors. Will you grow?

Yes, if you know how connect them to a small group or can somehow integrate them into the community.

Email me for training & speaking inquiries