Moving beyond CHURCH 101 and TOAST


I’m working on the next issue of Growing Congregations. Subscribe here.  This next issue will share the lessons from  my first two webinars.  This will include video as well as written documentation. That’s right,  UU Growth Videos coming your way.  Here’s the scoop.

How Toasty Are You? We have a lot of T5s out there...

Stuck at 101

In my experience the average Unitarian Universalist volunteer spends most of her or his time learning (and sometimes not learning) the basics of how to “do church.”  Often by the time a volunteer gets to the point of having a handle on their role, responsibilities, how congregations and the UUA function, and learning what works, they’re at a T3 or T4 on my Toast Index and opt out.

Once they opt out new people are recruited to fill the burnt out leadership role, and more often than not,  they go back to START.  And that isn’t even the 101 level, its more like 001.


A disclaimer. We have many amazing people leading all sorts of outstanding trainings, programs, and so on.  If you are staff, a consultant or other trainer working with our congregations I am one of your biggest fans. I love the work you do.  I just don’t think its sufficient anymore.  The world has changed and so must we. Note that’s the theme of our upcoming conference.  We need to evolve and change our ways to get to the next level.   Yes, some trainings need to happen in person. They are personal, process oriented, and can’t be condensed and shared online.  But much of what we teach can be shared more easily.

Yes, this can threaten the job security of those (myself included) who lead trainings.  If we want jobs we need to evolve and striving to help our congregations do the same. Our congregations and those who mentor them need to be amazing.  Not good, not church 101, but amazing.

21st Century Training

How do we move forward?  I think we should use video to present the essential training our leaders need on very specific topics.  The same questions are asked again and again. If you take on an essential leadership role in your congregation wouldn’t it be nice to sit down and have someone explain what you need to know?

And not just enough to get by, I’m talking everything you need to know to master your area and do an AMAZING job. That’s the point where it gets fun — when you’re succeeding!

We gobble up volunteers because too often they don’t have the training and support they need to succeed. Whats that you say?  There is plenty of info out there online and in books?  True, but it doesn’t seem to be the best way to communicate with our volunteers.  Its time we try something new…

Changing the Rules

For my work moving forward I’m going to change the rules.   I’m not going to feed a cycle of presenting the same ol’ intro training to a constantly turning over set of congregational volunteers and staff.

I led them once.  Now I’m writing up what I shared, integrating feedback and comments from participants,  and sharing the learning through video and supporting written documentation.

I shared this plan with a colleague.  He said I’d be “Youtubing myself out of a job.”  I think the exact opposite is true.

But Isn’t Video Too Expensive?

The cost of video is another comment I’ve been hearing as I’ve prepared to move forward with some pilot UU Growth Videos.  Fortunately I also freelance as a television producer and have the skills get my message out there.  For those who don’t,  I would still argue that being stuck in a perpetual entry level 101 burn-out cycle is far more expensive over time.   We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on training and education as an association.  It should be easier to access, share and build upon.  Don’t you think?

Sharing the Growing Congregations E-Newsletter

I hope you’ll sign up for Growing Congregations. Yes, I’ll share this new content via this site. Have no fear.  The e-newsletter is a way of reaching those who aren’t reading blogs.  It would be great if YOU would sign up (CLICK HERE) and then forward the e-newsletter to other leaders in your congregation.  That will help them get in our UU growth loop.But first, note the following.

This link will take you to a Ballou Channing District email sign-up page.  If you are from another district I know you don’t want every bit of mail we  send out.  To get just my e-newsletter enter your email, click submit. On the next page (see screenshot below) check  [  ] GROWING CONGREGATIONS E-NEWS.

Summary: Go to the sign up page, enter email, submit. On next page check what you want and save.  Done!

One thought on “Moving beyond CHURCH 101 and TOAST

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