Friday, February 1, 2013

Halleluujah Consultants: Elders Serving the Faith by Jennifer Nichols

I’ve just come from a week teaching some of our cadre of consultants for the Southern Region.  What an amazing time with a group of elders of this faith who are willing to serve in this specific capacity!  Lovingly called the Halleluujah Consultants, these folks are ready to serve the faith by helping your congregation become a “Smart(er) Church”, in other words, a healthy(ier) congregation.  All consultations are heavily subsidized by the fair share contributions made by the majority of the congregations in the Southern Region.  So, if your congregation is fair share, you have yourselves to thank along with others of your ilk.  If you are not fair share and take advantage of these services, why not write a thank you note to neighboring fair share congregations for making it all possible?  Many consultations will cost a nominal consulting fee, but some are so essential to health we offer them for FREE.  What, you ask, can these consultants do for my congregation? I’m so glad you asked and am happy to tell you… 

FREE Services!  Most of the consultations which don’t incur additional costs have to do with the transitions of religious professionals:

Start-Ups:  This is a 1 or 2 day process ideally held 3-6 months after the religious professional (minister, religious educator, administrator, music director, membership director) is called or hired.  Working through this process will get religious professionals, leadership and congregants on the same page for what a successful year together will look like.  Don’t let the name fool you, this doesn’t need to be done the second your new religious professional darkens your door.  This process is helpful at any point during a ministry, but especially if done within the first 2 years.

Exit Interviews: When you know one of your religious professionals is leaving, don’t hesitate to call about setting up an exit interview.  The exit interview is a healthy way for the departing professional and congregation to share appreciation as well as learnings that might make the next relationship even better.  The exit interview culminates in a report written summarizing a snapshot taken by the consultant.   In addition to the great information gleaned from the interviews, the report often has suggestions on positive ways to move forward.

Other consultations available for $75/hour:  As always, if the consultation is not particular to your one congregation (and truly, few are), inviting other congregations from your cluster can defray costs and build relationship: win-win!

Board Retreats:  Need a facilitator for your next Board retreat?  RE Council Retreat?  Give one of your Southern Region Congregational Life Consultants or the Southern Region office a call!  We’ll direct someone your way.

Conflict:  Nobody likes to deal with conflict, right?  Au contraire.  We have consultants who LOVE to guide communities dealing with conflicted situations.  Well, love may be too strong a word – they certainly have the skills to help.  Not that faith communities EVER get caught up in conflict, but if yours happens to, give us a call SOONER rather than later.  We’ll help you assess the level and possible ways to deal with whatever comes up in a healthy manner.  Sans conflict, if you’d like to set up a Concord (opposite of conflict) Team, we can help with that as well

Covenant Building:  This is a covenantal faith.  As we strive to live in covenant with one another as well as congregation to congregation, it means calling ourselves and others back into covenant when needed and being able to forgive – not accountabilities Unitarian Universalists are particularly practiced with, right?  Whether you need to start with a behavioral covenant or are ready to become a truly covenantal community, our consultation can facilitate the process.

Sabbatical Covenants:  Congratulations!  Your congregation is a responsible employer and you have provided the opportunity for your religious professionals to take sabbaticals!  Now that the time is approaching for one of their sabbaticals to begin, please give us a call so we can help facilitate a covenant between the congregation and the religious professional.  Covenants at departure AND re-entry are key to sabbaticals being a positive experience for all involved.

Shared Values/Mission/Vision:
  Ready to embark on the exciting adventure of figuring out where your congregation fits in this crazy world of ours?  Our consultants will lead you in a shared values exercise so you can begin talking with one another at a deep level about what matters most.  From there, we can continue to work with your congregation in creating a vision and mission grounded in your shared values and (dare I say it?) theology.

Smart Church: Putting her many years of systems work with Peter Steinke to amazing use, Connie Goodbread has developed a Unitarian Universalist version of Steinke’s Healthy Congregations program called Smart Church.  Our consultants can provide training for the leadership of your congregation or cluster on this systems approach to being the best congregation you can be.

  Need a new direction when it comes to stewardship?  Hint:  it’s less about money than relationship.  Our consultants can confer with your board/stewardship committee/leadership to help you jumpstart the perpetuation of this faith through a stewardship consultation.

Other consultations and workshops:  Examples of other more specialized services we can provide include but are not limited to Listening Circles, Campus Ministry, Non-Violent Communication, and Youth Ministry.  If there is something in particular you need that is not listed in this article, just give us a call.  Chances are we can help with that, too.

I’ll conclude with a big shout out to all our Halleluujah Consultants – thank you for serving this faith so well!