Friday, December 19, 2008

Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Facilitator Training with Peter Bowden

Saturday, January 10, 2008 PLANO, TX
Program 9:00 am - 3:00pm, doors open at 8am. Hosted
by the Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano

Download Flier & Registration Form

The Community UU Church of Plano, TX is proud to offer a day long facilitator training with Peter Bowden, UU Small Group Ministry Consultant and co-founder of the Unitarian Universalist Small Group Ministry Network.

This training has been designed for congregations launching or re-launching an intentional congregation-wide small group ministry with synchronized session-based groups. That is, a network of ministry groups coordinated by the minister(s) and a steering committee with all groups using the same session-based content.

The training will include:

  • The vision and purpose of small group ministry

  • Presentation of the congregation-wide session based model

  • Essential skills and practices for small group facilitators

  • Group dynamics and life cycle of small group ministries

  • Approaches to common group challenges

  • The role of ongoing coaching and training

  • The transformational role of service and action in group life

  • Question and answer sessions

Peter Bowden is a Unitarian Universalist consultant specializing in small group ministry and UU outreach and evangelism. Peter is one of the founders of the UU Small Group Ministry Network, a national organization and non-profit dedicated to supporting small group ministries within our movement.

Through this network and independently Peter has led workshops on small group ministry throughout New England, at General Assemblies, Ferry Beach and Star Island.

Cost: $ 30.00 per person, or $ 25.00 per person for congregational teams of three (3) or more. Lunch provided.

Registration: Registration limited to 60 participants.

Download Flier & Registration Form

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sheepwalkers, Tribes and Leaders for the 21st Century

UU Friends living and leading in the 21st Century, this ones for you.

My favorite marketing, leadership and change author, Seth Godin, has a new book coming out this week - Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. For ages humans lived in tribes. Now with the internet people are finding new ways to build tribes from the size of small groups to thousands and thousands of people. Learn the in's and out's of organizing and leading tribes in the 21st century.

Here's a bit from the product description:

A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.

Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they’re enabling countless new tribes to be born—groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.

And so the key question: Who is going to lead us?

The Web can do amazing things, but it can’t provide leadership. That still has to come from individuals— people just like you who have passion about something. The explosion in tribes means that anyone who wants to make a difference now has the tools at her fingertips.

If you think leadership is for other people, think again—leaders come in surprising packages. Consider Joel Spolsky and his international tribe of scary-smart software engineers. Or Gary Vaynerhuck, a wine expert with a devoted following of enthusiasts. Chris Sharma leads a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces, while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, runs her internal tribe of marketers from her cube in Seattle. All they have in common is the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.

If you ignore this opportunity, you risk turning into a “sheepwalker”—someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if obedience is doing you (or your organization) any good. Sheepwalkers don’t do very well these days.

Tribes will make you think (really think) about the opportunities in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers. . . . It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

100 largest and Fastest Growing Churches

Fellow church geeks,

If you are curious about what the largest and fastest growing churches in America are buy Outreach Magazine's special issue the OUTREACH 100. Just ordered mine.

Here's the description:

What can we learn from America's fastest-growing churches?

The Outreach 100 annual report is packed with practical ideas and encouraging words for any church, any size.

How do America's fastest-growing churches keep people coming and get them involved? What are the trends shaping church growth today? And what have Outreach 100 pastors learned along the way that they now want to pass on to you? Hint: It's not about the size of your church, it's all about faithfulness. Reserve your copy of The Outreach 100 today.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Updated SGM blog and Groupwise articles

Small Group Ministry Friends,

If you are looking for more of my work on small group ministry you can find it in two places.

#1 - My small group ministry blog can be found at

#2- You can also subscribe to get periodic articles from me. Click here and subscribe to "GROUP WISE: On UU small group life and leadership." Note that I've been v-e-r-y busy with my tv production work. UU and SGM projects happen between seasons and random free days.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

All Souls and New Dimensions - The Friendliest, Trendiest, Most Radically Inclusive MERGER

Take All Souls Tulsa, the largest member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and merge with it the Friendliest, Trendiest, Most Radically Inclusive New Dimensions Church .

What do you get? All I can see is I can't wait to see!

You can read more about it below and watch related videos on the All Souls youtube channel.

The link below is to a feature article in Sunday Sept 21, 2008 Tulsa World Newspaper

After last sermon, no regrets

Synopsis of story:
Bishop Carlton Pearson shut down New Dimensions Church this month, ending his 27 years as a senior pastor in Tulsa.

This article was published on on 9/21/2008.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Guest Speaking - Small Group Ministry, UU Evangelism and more


Happy new church year! A quick update related to my UU guest speaking.
I am now booking Fall and Spring Guest Speaking and workshop dates. As always, I'd love to speak with your congregation and/or lead a program for your district. Questions give me a call in my office at 401-213-3291.

Most popular topics include:
  • Small group ministry
  • Becoming a Contagious UU
  • The UU Butterfly Effect
  • Findthing the "perfect" minister

Newest FALL 08 topics:

Quantum Physics and the Spirituality of Interconnection

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Offsetting carbon is cheaper than I thought

Monday I'm starting a new project in Boston related to my tv work. Since this will require a good deal of commuting over the next 15 weeks I decided to look into the price of offsetting my emissions.

I went to and entered my projected mileage - 9,000 miles over that period of time. I was scared to hit calculate... How much is it going to be? What if it is more than I imagined. I clicked the button bracing for the damage.


Sweet Jesus! That's it? Did you know it cost so little to offset??? I had no idea.

Do us all a favor. Go to and see how much it will cost to offset your driving. Heck, why not see what it will cost to offset the mileage on your car to date.

I just calculated the cost of offsetting 100,000 miles on a 99 Toyota Corolla. The cost for offsetting the estimated emitted 29.97 TONS of carbon this vehicle has emitted is $162.22.

UU's embracing "Low cost, high-tech media"

Paul Worhach Hudson from the UU Church of Berkeley just wrote to share what his congregation is doing with "low cost, high tech" media. I've been talking about UU TV and related media, but I haven't discussed the power of distributing audio content via new media. Far more people have audio players (iPod, etc...) than video players like iphones and ipod video. Also, a number of people, myself included, are listening to audio podcasts on our desktop computers. I've taken to listen to a number of congregations sermons while cleaning my office.

If you haven't, start thinking about how your congregation can distribute audio content via new cheap high tech media channels.

Paul writes:

In addition to our podcasts and YouTube videos, UUCB has just put up an album of children's stories on iTunes (via CDBaby, who distributes and sends the album to a plethora of music buying sites) from our MRE Chris Holton Jablonksi. There are at least two other UU churches that have released albums on iTunes, including the Orange County UU Choir (their original song "I am a Unitarian Universalist" is really cute.) This might be something that other UU churches might want to tap into.

Here's our iTunes link:

And here's our CDBaby link:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Submit your UU videos to


If you or your congregation make a great video related to our faith, what you are doing to make a difference in the world, or other UU related content I invite you to share it with me so I can add it to

UU Planet TV is a new online video channel for Unitarian Universalists. It features the best videos for, by and about UU's online.

While I continually search for new videos and have google alerts keeping a watchful eye for videos with UU related tags, you are welcome to send me links to your videos as you upload them. Just email me the URL, the full address as it appears in the browser address bar. Http://whateveryourvideosaddressis....

A SPECIAL INVITATION to all UU Youth and Young Adults. Guys, you get the power of new media. Many of you also have the technology, creativity and time to make videos. Help me share our faith with the world, make our association more transparent, shape our vision of the future and drag our movement into the 21st century. MAKE UU TV. Make short, informative, fun, weird, educational and UU related videos.

In faith,
Peter Bowden
UU PLANET Ministry & Media - UU TV & Videos - What I do

Friday, March 14, 2008

UU Video site in beta -- now beta testing. Check it out, send feedback. Thanks...

UPDATE: out of beta and going strong. - peter website

Monday, March 10, 2008

UU TV - connecting producers and supporters

hose of you not receiving my e-newsletter, this is a blog copy of the message I sent out last week regarding UU TV... Check it out and pass it on. -- Peter


At General Assembly last year I started speaking with many of you about my vision for UU Television. If you are interested in this topic, please read on below. I have set up a new e-newsletter through UU PLANET on this topic. If you are subscribed to my general email list and would like to UU TV messages as well, just click the subscription management link at the end of this message.

The Internet and television are fusing. Digital video production , the web and increased computing power makes a new world of communication available. The UUA's new capital campaign is called "Now is the time." I'll tell you what time it is.
It's time to move our movement from the 19th century straight into the 21st.

Imagine a UU TV network, a broadcast available though the television and the web channel, one with a wide range of content for those new to our faith, existing members, leaders and more...

For me, UU TV is a way to turn our movement inside-out, to change that common inward focus and make the best of what we are doing 100% visible and accessible. This will not only share our faith, it will force many of us to change our ways.

By organizing volunteers, our UU media and video professionals, mapping out a coordinated strategy and enlisting an army of UU TV volunteers we can make this happen. I believe that if we start organizing, the vision will build and the money will come...

Would you like to join me?
If so, here are a few things you can do.

1) Join the UU TV e-newsletter
Invite anyone interested in Unitarian Universalist television to subscribe to my UU TV producers and supporters e-newsletter. Other communication tools will emerge, but for now my UU TV e-newsletter is mission control for building the vision.

2) Introduce yourself to me
Tell me who you are and what your interest is. Email me with a personal introduction. What is your interest in this UU TV thing? What talents and experience can you share? Writing, graphic design, editors, producers, actors - friends, we need it all!

3) Start brainstorming
Start generating ideas on your own, with fellow UU's. Brainstorm ideas for different programs we could have, specific segments on shows - go nuts! You can send these to me as you generate them or compile a batch to share later. As we talk and build a vision for what UU TV can look like, energy and momentum will build.

I am passionate about helping our congregations and our faith move from the 19th century straight into the 21st. While I plan on being highly involved in this effort, I can't do without you.

I invite you share news of this effort. Have a blog, website or newsletter? Link to the UU TV page on my site.

I look forward to hearing from you.

In cooperation,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Elections - endorsements vs. accountability

I just listened to a Speaking of Faith program featuring Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics. One of the many comments Wallis made which struck me addressed the issue of endorsing candidates.

He shared that he and his organization, Sojourners, has avoided endorsing candidates. Instead, they have worked to hold ALL CANDIDATES accountable to their agenda.

I've had my thoughts about the candidates for President of the USA as well as President of the UUA. But I haven't done enough to shape the debate.

Over the course of the campaign for President of the UUA I hope you'll join me in working to shape the debate BEFORE we campaign hard for either candidate.

Both UUA Presidential candidates have started posting youtube videos. We should start posting questions for them. I'd also love to host some discussions with the candidates via digitally recorded conference call.

What process ideas do you have for framing the debate?
How can we use web to increase participation in this UUA election?

Campaign Websites
Hallman - Morales

PS - I've already had a number of conversations about the cost of running for UUA President. Me, I'm going to give equally to both campaigns... You can do the same. Each of their sites have quick, easy and safe Paypal donate buttons.

Top Ten Moments in the Race for "Pastor-in-Chief"

I just received an email from the Interfaith Alliance - great organization - sharing the top ten moments in the race for "Pastor-in-Chief." The video and top ten list are below...

The Interfaith Alliance presents
Top Ten Moments in the Race for "Pastor-in-Chief"

10. Mitt Romney is asked if he believes "every word" of the Bible
(CNN/You Tube debate (11-28-07).

9. CNN's Soledad O'Brien asks John Edwards to "name his greatest
(CNN/Sojourners town hall 6-26-07).

8. James Dobson tells a reporter he does not think that Fred
Thompson is a Christian

7. Barack Obama distributes a campaign flier describing himself as
a "Committed Christian" (1-21-08).

6. Hillary Clinton said we need to "inject faith into policy"
(CNN/Sojourners town hall 6-26-07).

5. Mike Huckabee explains his rise in the polls by invoking the
Biblical story of two fish and five loaves feeding a crowd of 5,000
people (11-28-07).

4. Tim Russert asks all the Democratic candidates to "name their
favorite Bible verse" (MSNBC 9-26-07).

3. John McCain says the Constitution established the United States
as a Christian nation and that he would prefer a Christian president

2. Barack Obama asked a congregation to help him "become an
instrument of God" and join him in creating "a Kingdom right here on
Earth" (10-17-07).

1. Mike Huckabee tells a crowd: "What we need to do is to amend the
Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's
standards" (1-14-08).

The Interfaith Alliance offers the following ways to get involved...

Let the candidates know what you think.
Use our Candidate Quick Contact to tell the presidential candidates your thoughts about the place of religion on the campaign trail!

Explore our Election Year Resources.
The Interfaith Alliance is making a difference in America by promoting the positive and healing role of religion in public life; encouraging civic participation; facilitating community activism; and challenging religious political extremism. Click Here

Sign up to receive our newsletters.
You'll get a summary of news stories where religion –either positively or negatively – has played a role in a political candidate’s quest for elected office. This will cover political campaigns, their affiliating organizations or independent groups seeking to influence the outcome on an election, as well as what TIA is doing to protect religious liberty and maintain the sepparation of church and state. Click Here

Make a Donation to TIA.
Your support helps us continue our great work. It will be an immeasurable help to us in the coming months, as we work to keep the line between religion and government solid.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

UUA to end funding of Continental YRUU Leadership Structures

Just read about changes to UUA funding of continental YRUU leadership structures on iminister. A quick search led me to the new YRUU UUlogy blog.

While I'm sad to see the change, I've worked with many ministers, DRE's, youth advisors and youth leaders who would love to see funding for more staff to directly support congregational based programming. It would be great to find an amazing and seasoned youth advisor who has gone on to become a minister and pay her to support & develop material for all us locals.

I think we need to treat our youth ministry as seriously as we treat our adult ministries. We need high quality staffing by people who are grounded in experience in congregations. From my experience I can understand the move by the UUA to flip their support from continental everything to support for the congregational level. That's the mandate.

Hopefully this will lead to amazing events and conferences about kick @$$ youth ministry.

Letter from the continental YRUU Steering Committee:

To whom it may concern,

As the continental YRUU Steering Committee, it is with great sorrow that we inform you that on June 30, 2008 the UUA will cease to fund YRUU youth activities at the continental level. Therefore, Youth Council will not be held this summer or in the years to follow and YRUU Steering Committee 2007-2008 will be the last. The UUA will continue to fund and support Youth Caucus at GA and the Chrysalis training program. The work of youth ministry within the UUA will shift to a congregationally based focus.

This change has been in the works for several years. At the Long-Range Planning Meeting in 2003 between YRUU and the UUA, a "Common Ground III" was proposed. “Common Ground” is in reference to the two meetings in the early 1980's that dissolved Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) and created Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU). The Common Ground III resolution, drafted in consultation with Bill Sinkford and the Board of Trustees, stated that further goal setting and re-imagining of youth ministry and YRUU was needed. At Youth Council 2004 consensus on the resolution of Common Ground III was blocked preventing it from passing, and in the following months the UUA Board of Trustees convened the Consultation to and with Youth that conducted a survey and congregational, district, and stakeholder conversations related to UU youth ministry. The Consultation process culminated with the Summit on Youth Ministry in July 2007. The Summit resulted in a vision for the future of UU youth ministry that focused largely on congregationally based programs. To carry out this vision, the Youth Ministry Working Group was formed, charged with implementing the objectives outlined in the Summary Report on Ministry to and with Youth. The Youth Ministry Working Group has a heavy UUA staff presence but also includes volunteer members, four of whom are youth. The working group held its first meeting February 8-11, 2008.

Although official YRUU structures will cease to exist at the end of June, youth programming on the district and congregational levels will continue relatively unaffected. Current youth resources available from the Office of Youth Ministries will continue to be available.

YRUU Steering Committee will now be advocating for the creation of a strong continental youth leadership body that would have the explicit goal of serving congregations and that would be empowered to direct the resources of the Office of Youth Ministries. We will also be advocating for support of anti-racism/anti-oppression work within youth ministry. The YRUU Steering Committee calls on the UUA to support the Groundwork collective of trainers, the Youth Social Justice Training (YSJT), and identity-based ministry groups like DRUUMM YaYA.

As representatives of the larger UU youth community, we value feedback on our blog at Thoughts, memories, rants, and love notes are appreciated and welcomed. There you will also be able to find current information about the youth ministry transition process.

In Love, Struggle, and Faith,

YRUU Steering Committee

Elisabeth Moore
Rose Roberts
Will Floyd
Kimberlee Tomczak
Kasey Neiss
Paul Rickter
Noah Hurowitz

UPDATE: Feb. 18 Letter from Rev. Bill Sinkford clarifying situation....

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Technology grants and training for growth?

The Alban Institute just made a MAJOR upgrade to their website and technology. New features include podcast promoting new books and upcoming seminars -- 5 to 11 minutes each.

First thing I did on the revised site was subscribe to the podcast and start listening. NOTE you can use itunes (free) to subscribe to audio podcasts and listen to them on your computer even if you don't have an ipod. I don't.... Anyhow, so I started listening. Then I started wanting to GO to these workshops held everywhere BUT in New England.

The point, listening instead of reading got be engaged.

This led me to think, what would happen if all of our congregations had audio or video podcasts. ALL OF THEM.... What would THAT do for growth?

Imagine. Instead of the UUA funding new congregation startup projects, what if they gave technology grants and training to congregations everywhere. I would wager that an association wide investment in technology would immediately lead to real growth.

Hmmmmm..... What's happening with all that Association Sunday money? Friends, now is the time. Time to catch up to the times. Time to be smarter with our shared resources. Time to put out money where the growth is.

Thousands of people are sitting at home, connected to the internet, waiting for us to open our doors to them -- digitally.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Me? I'm for Obama

I see the blog postings in support of various candidates rising. Yes, seems many UU bloggers are for Obama. Me, I'm just glad to see so many American's engaged in the political process.

Yes, I'm for Obama too. I love the coalition he is building. I also think he has the vision, ideas, character and experience we need in the White House. It is nice to be inspired for a change...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Survival is not enough, especially for UUs!

Visiting our congregations as a guest speaker, corresponding with people about congregational change across the US - one thing is clear. CHANGE is still a four letter word. Yes, I know it has six letters....

While many of us are embracing growth and changing our ways, the truth is it only takes one person in most of our congregations to put on the breaks. In my home congregation I've watched them investigate hospitality, membership, growth multiple times, each resulting in the conclusion that there is a need for a part time volunteer/membership coordinator. Three cycles and a decade later their at it again. Who will put on the breaks this time? I love 'em, but they are stuck. Trying to drive into the future while somewhere someone is pulling on the emergency break. Or maybe its the steering wheel they are grabbing.

The author who turned me into a UU evangelist -- he gave me the tools and the attitude -- is best selling marketing author Seth Godin. Seth has a number of books out which UU's should read. My most recent read is Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change.

This is one I'd buy a stack of an give to your board. They'll love you for giving them a book that is a great read, not "churchie", and totally relevant.

Curious about this Godin guy, check out his blog. One business blogs on the planet Earth.

Church Marketing Lab offers free design ideas

Looking for some inspiration for posters, fliers or other church marketing materials? The people over at Church Marketing Sucks has developed a flickr group where people can share their designs. They are calling this the Church Marketing Lab.

One of my favorites is the design for the Crossroad's High School Ministry. They have worked in an atom symbol and a bio-hazard symbol. I have no doubt that their students where t-shirts with these designs with pride.

Watch a slide show of the some of the images in the lab....

Church Marketing Sucks

Thursday, January 31, 2008

UU's being led through month of gratitude

A search on Unitarian Universalist spiritual practices led me to a post by Thom Belote, Minister of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Overland Park, KS. Thom is leading his congregation through a month of gratitude in February. Each day has a featured spiritual practice. Very cool....

I love seeing UU ministers share their ideas and "campaigns" with such generosity. If you are sitting on a practice, program or related resource you know other congregations would want to hear about, let it be known. Send it to the UUA, your district office, me - get it out there.

I just talked with Tom about this program and he directed me to his source of inspiration for this, Rev. Ken Beldon of Wellsprings. If you check out their site notice "small groups" on the front page. Nice... If you got 'em, don't be shy! Show off your groups.

CGNews Changes, Groupwise! and UU TV

I've gotten some great emails from people since announcing last week that I am stepping down as editor Covenant Group News, the Unitarian Universalist Association's primary e-newsletter on small group ministry.

Why the change? Success!

Since launching the UU SGM Network my work has been growing. I am both a television producer and a UU consultant, trainer and guest speaker. My alternative ministry & UU media work has been growing. My secular tv production as well. Taken together all of this has squeezed out the time I had for both our network and my own writing.

Over 2008 I hope to spend more time writing and producing resources related to the various consulting work I do. Those of you interested in new small group ministry articles from me can subscribe to the small group section of my e-newsletter, "GroupWise: On UU Group Life and Leadership". I will be writing articles as time permits and compiling them for later publication.

In addition to writing, I would love to find time to do more to get us organized to produce UUtv. I haven't has much time for this, but since I first started talking about it the size of web video has doubled. Now IS the time... Stay tuned for more on that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

UUA Presidential Candidates and Supporters

Below is a youtube video player built to show the videos from the two candidates for UUA President. I will be adding videos from both candidates as I find them on youtube.

Get this player/link for your site.

Campaign Websites

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New RAINBOW UU car stickers

Happy New Year!

If you are among the UU's resolving to put a UU bumper sticker on your car this year you are in luck! In December I received requests for a UU car sticker with a rainbow design, as well as a plain UU. You can find a number of variations of these at: