8 Elements of Effective Congregational Ministries

Full church

UUSM’s Board of Directors has adopted a model of effective congregational ministries in our beloved community that empowers everyone in the church to take responsibility for creating a beloved community together.

Unitarian Universalists have long held the belief that the work of the church and religious leadership is everyone’s calling in our communities. To that end, we propose the following 8 Elements of Effective Congregational Ministries, which are adapted from All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa — our largest UU congregation.

These 8 Elements have been used in church settings to nurture a culture of shared ministry and spiritual leadership, mutual accountability, and the holistic integration of various church programs, committees, groups, and ministries. These 8 Elements invite us to consider our own beloved groups and committees and the ways in which we live out the mission of the congregation and embody the core functions of our congregation. Although our groups may have specific purposes, in many ways, they are microcosms of the church as a whole. As such, they can be opportunities for us to practice what it means to live a UU spiritual life in community.

Each committee, program, and group of UUSM is encouraged to include these eight holistic ministry elements in their programs and work together: beginning with self-reflection, incorporating action, sharing learning, and implementing new feedback, to improve our effectiveness as co-creators of beloved community.

1 – Spirituality 

Spirituality includes some way to connect to the core values of our lives through spiritual practices such as chalice lightings, readings, meditation, prayer, reflection, or worship. All groups are encouraged to create sacred space for their meetings by opening and closing with chalice lightings, readings, and other meaningful spiritual practices.

2 – Fellowship

Fellowship sustains beloved community and involves sharing fun, food, and friendship as a program, committee, or group. Even committees with defined tasks make time during the year for a party or other social gathering.

3 – Education

Everything we do as a congregation is religious education. All groups are encouraged to intentionally offer educational opportunities for their group and the larger community.

4 – Pastoral Care

Each committee, program, or group helps care for its members during a crisis or time of need. Group leaders stay in touch with the minister, Pastoral Associates, and Care Ring to keep our leaders informed about pastoral care needs.

5 – Leadership Development

One function of each group is to recruit and train the next generation of congregational leaders. Strategic planning, succession planning, and leadership development opportunities ensure groups are sustainable and regenerative.

6 – Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Social Justice

Each group engages in Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Social Justice work on personal, interpersonal, congregational, and societal levels. Each group can also look for ways to give back to the larger community through a service project.

7 – Invitation

Each program and group should have some element of inviting others to share in our congregation’s mission. This includes holding programs open to the public and/or inviting friends to attend.

8 – Stewardship

Each group participates in some way in raising funds and resources to sustain and expand the efforts of the church.

Our hope is that in the next three months, these 8 Elements can be introduced and reflected upon by all of the committees and groups of UUSM. Our further hope is that this can become a regular model for reflection as we think holistically about the many ways we are invited to serve each other and our religious home. The Board welcomes responses from each group in this process so we can better understand the breadth and depth of our work together.

Thank you for investing your time, thoughtfulness, and creativity in this developmental ministry process!

With faith and love,

Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae                 
Developmental Minister

Jacki Weber
President, UUSM Board of Directors

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