New fundraising, governance books available

The UUA Bookstore has two new books on fundraising and two on governing board practices.

  • Asking, by Jerold Panas, is billed as “a 59-minute guide to everything board members, volunteers, and staff must know to secure the gift.” Chapter headings include “Donors Give to the Magic of an Idea” and “It’s Amazing What You Don’t Raise When You Don’t Ask.”

All four books are $24.95 each.

Resources for congregational governance, leadership, conflict, stewardship

Earlier this year Annette Marquis, district executive for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Southeast District, compiled several lists of books she believes are useful for congregational leaders. She created lists for the following topics:

• Good governance in congregations

• Congregational leadership

• Leadership tools

• Covenant, conflict, and right relationships

• Congregational stewardship

She notes, “Although you probably can’t read them all, engaging your congregation’s board and leadership in a planned course of study of at least one of these books a year will help to build a culture of commitment to best practices in your congregation.”

The lists are on her blog, Vital Congregations. While you’re there, check out some of her other blog posts on Technology Resources for Congregations and Right Relationships in Congregations.

Recommended articles on congregational life, religion

The following articles about congregational life or religion in general have been recommended by Unitarian Universalists and others on Facebook in recent weeks.

The Rev. Stefan Jonasson, the UUA’s director for Large Congregations, linked to an Alban Institute article by Alban senior consultant Susan Beaumont, “Determining Ideal Board Size.”  Beaumont notes:

Generally having more people in a group will increase the likelihood that someone will have the information needed to make the decision and someone will propose a correct choice or solution. However, more people produce more opinions that have to be communicated and discussed . . . Most of us cannot imagine reducing our governing bodies down to 5 individuals, but the closer we can get to that number, the more effective our problem solving will be.

The Rev. Ron Robinson, who has a community ministry in Turley, Okla., held up an article, “Loose Connections,” from Christian Century about thinking about membership as not a one-time joining, but an annual recommitment to mission and covenant, “making it more about membership in one another rather than an organization.”

Christian Schmidt, a candidate for the UU ministry and incoming intern minister at First Parish in Needham, Mass., posted a link in the Facebook UU Young Adult Growth Lab to “Young, like Jesus: Finding a liberal, 20-and-30-something community of faith,” by Episcopalian Julia Stroud, from thedaily.com.  The article describes how Stroud gave up one definition of what a young adult group could be and found another.

Heather Christensen, an Alaska UU, recommended  “The Church for the 21st Century,” an article by Presbyterian Carol Howard Merritt at TribalChurch.org, on the UU Facebook Growth Lab. The article asks that readers think about questions like “What sort of work do young adults do in our community?” “Do we ask people to give up their time for meaningful (church) work?” “Are we doing enough to change the world?”

 

 

New book explores governance and ministry

At a time when many congregations are rethinking their governance structures in an effort to help their boards function more effectively and to grow in an ever-changing world, the Rev. Dan Hotchkiss, a Unitarian Universalist minister and senior consultant for the Alban Institute, has written a book that can help.

In Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, Hotchkiss, who has worked with hundreds of churches and synagogues across the country, calls governance an “expressive art,” like preaching. He invites congregations to grow beyond a “board-centered structure,” instead creating a strong relationship with clergy and other lay leaders in the congregation so that the board is not making all of the day-to-day decisions for the congregation.

Many congregations continue to be organized the way they were in 1950, says Hotchkiss. Yet as a congregation grows and programs multiply, so do the disadvantages of the board-centered structure, he believes. “A board that tries to manage day-to-day operations . . . will spend a great deal of time on operational decision making. If there is no other place for a buck to stop it will stop at the board table. Until a board is willing to delegate real authority to someone else it remains the default chief operating officer.”

Hotchkiss says Governance and Ministry will be most useful to congregations that are at least pastoral-sized––with a median attendance of 50 to 150 children and adults. Among the questions the book strives to answer is: How do we need to restructure our governance to grow larger?

When liberal congregations fail to grow they often think that theology is the problem, says Hotchkiss. It’s not. “Well-organized congregations are succeeding (and poorly organized ones are failing) across the theological spectrum. The key trait such congregations have in common is their strong belief that they have something vitally important to offer other people.” That gives them the courage to let go of old ways of organizing. Improved organization can also inspire more people to volunteer.

He adds, “What healthy structures have in common is a clear understanding about the pathway to be followed when various decisions need to be made.”

As an incentive for change, Hotchkiss notes, “Congregations do some of their best work when instead of giving people what they want, they teach them to want something new.”

Governance and Ministry is $17 at the UUA Bookstore.  Hotchkiss is also the author of the 2002 book Ministry and Money: A Guide for Clergy and Their Friends.