Thursday, August 25, 2005

"Miracle" snow at my home church

Looking at the UU news as listed on Google I just came upon a story that tells of a pile of snow appearing outside of a Unitarian Universalist church on a recent hot August day. To my surprise it was my HOME church in Providence, RI that had this "miracle" snow appear.

The real miracle is that this story got coverage in our local paper, the Providence Journal, and was picked up by other papers as well.

Since I now live in the city where my wife is a UU minister I had to do some investigating. It would seem that someone raided the pile of "snow" outside the Brown University skating rink.

Though I'm happy for their media coverage, I do wish that it was due to some good work, not a prank. If only they had called all the TV stations, set up a "miracle snow cone sale", and given the proceeds (at eBay prices) to a local charity. That would be news worthy.

Ah, the First Untiarian Church of Providence...

Which kind of CEO are we asking our ministers to be?

Who is behind the present push towards senior ministers serving as CEOs? That I'd love to know.

If you look at the business world and the CEO model some are now recommending there is volumes of literature suggesting that the best CEO knows how to trust, empower and support great staff people.

There is a great article on TEAM MINISTRY in a recent interconnections article.
UUA InterConnections: Collaborative Leadership In Churches' Best Interests

If your congregation is looking to move to a CEO model, make sure you find out if they are trying to move towards an older model where the "boss" calls all the shots, or a more cutting edge CEO model where the staff has a team leader but is a TEAM.

Have stories of UU CEO success or horror? I'd love to hear from you.

FYI -- Be careful where you stick your Policy Governance. It can send a dysfunctional UU leadership-ministry structure straight to HELL.

UUA Lay Leadership Drive Time Essays

At General Assembly 2005 the UUA started distributing discs of what they are calling "Drive Time Essays." These are short informational essays on focused topics for lay leaders.

The first set of these DTE's are now available online as PDF text files and in streaming audio. This is a great resource to share with your leadership.

UUA Programs & Services: Lay Leadership Drive Time Essays

UU's and Study Circles

I've been talking to many UU leaders (after trainings, guest speaking, call me for scheduling at 401 855-0037) and the issue of how to do outreach keeps coming up.

A great way to reach out into the community is to DO SOMETHING in the community. Don't just look for ways to get people to come to your church -- when you become a valued partner in the larger world people will take notice and start checking you out.

So the question therefore becomes what to do... There are endless options. Here is a new one for you. Our congregations are doing amazing things via small group ministry. People need to talk. Why not help the larger community talk about important issues? We can use what we've learned about connection, meaning and engagement in UU small groups and bring it out of the church.

This is an amazing model for social action. And the resources already exist!

There is an organization called the Study Circles Resource Center which is producing incredible resources on making this kind of dialogue happen. They have resources on using what they call "study circles" and I playfully call "secular small group ministry" to explore the following issues:

Civil Liberties and Homeland Security
Criminal justice
Student success / Achievement gap
Growth and sprawl
Neighborhoods and families
Police-community relations
U.S. policy In Iraq

Many of these are topics UU's are already involved with. Why not connect your leaders with the study circle people, the resources, and have your congregation be the group that made these essential conversations happen?

Go forth and get people talking. Its the UU thing to do.