Shibboleths of Leadership

A shibboleth has come to mean the use of old words or phrases that form part of the specialized jargon of a group, and reveal their users as members of a group. Since many of us continue to cling to old ideas, Lance Secretan coined the term shibboleths of leadership.

He believes the practice, theory and teaching of leadership as been in a rut for years. He has noticed a herd mentality afoot. Consultants, professors, academic writers, and theorists work hard to deepen the existing paradigm, thus excluding new thinking.

He believes our attachment to shibboleths and theories often serve our need to be right more than the need to make the world better. This frailty of ego results in making work experience debilitating or many people whose common sense tells them that the philosophies and theories being practiced and promoted are inadequate and anachronistic. Yet, people are pulled along on the stream of fashionable shibboleths masquerading as wisdom, unable to change it all. The CEOs, leaders and HR practitioners responsible for training and development, often scan the environment for the most popular theories and books—obsolete paradigms and shibboleths—and not wanting to be seen to be out of step, they encourage the same obsolescence  themselves, reinforcing the inadequacy and providing validation for those still stuck in their old paradigms.

You can read the rest of Shibboleths of Leadership by checking out the article in Paradigms magazine.

Book Review: Reach Out and Give by Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed.

“The World is beautiful. There’s so much to notice and be grateful for.”

Reach out and Give is a short, easy-to-read children’s book that is uplifting, positive, and a useful tool in teaching children how they can be generous and reach out to their community. At only thirty pages with bright and cheerful illustration, follows one young boy in his journey throughout his community where he learns how he can give his time and talent to those in need. Moreover, Reach Out and Give highlights how good it can feel inside yourself when you help others and are generous.

The message conveyed in this book is one that every child should understand, and while the story itself is a useful learning tool, so is the four pages of resources for parents and teachers located in the back of the book. This section of resources begins by defining important words that a young child might not yet understand, but will be essential to know when learning about giving: generous, grateful, relief, service, talents, and volunteer. There are questions provided that can help stimulate a conversation about generosity between a parent and/or teacher and their young child. Lastly, there are a number of games that are highlighted to utilize during “teachable moments” related to generosity.

One great idea the author has is for children to create a “We’re Grateful for” Journal. She writes what the teacher will need to prepare this journal and what kind of materials are necessary, and then she writes how to effectively use this teaching tool: “Talk with children about what it means to be grateful, using discussion questions for pages 1-3. Explain that you will be keeping a journal-a daily record- of things everyone is grateful for. Each day, you and the children can each draw a picture or write a journal entry of something you saw, something that happened, or something you realized you are thankful for. Invite children to date their entries and add them to the book each day. Continue over several weeks, noticing from time to time how full the journal is growing and how much there is to be grateful for.”

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or religious educator in your congregation, this book is extremely useful in helping a child to understand the importance of generosity. To learn more about the author and the text, you can visit Free Spirit Publishing for details.

Study finds that Donors that give more to Church also give elsewhere

“Houses of worship and other charities often aren’t in competition for dollars but instead tend to reap donations from similar donors, a new study shows.

Slightly more than 50 percent of people who financially supported congregations also gave to at least one charitable organization in the last year, according to a study conducted by Phoenix-based Grey Matter Research Consulting.
Researchers also found that the more Americans give to a house of worship, the more they donate to other groups. And the trend continues with the generosity of the donor.

For example, donors who gave less than $100 to a house of worship also donated an average of $208 to other charities. Those who gave between $100 and $499 to a congregation gave an average of $376 to others. Donors of between $500 and $999 to places of worship gave an average of $916 to others.”

To read the rest of this article, you can visit the Beliefnet Blog that highlights this report.

To Rebuild church, Stop looking for Quick Fixes by Dan Dick

“To rebuild Church, stop looking for quick fixes,” speaks to congregations that try to meet fundraising goals by selecting the ‘perfect’ technique. The best possible technique will not guarantee success unless congregants really care about the church.

Dan Dick writes, “At what point do we finally wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as a lasting, transformative ‘quick fix’? The United Methodist Church has suffered through over 50 years of ‘church-in-box’ programs that have produced poor results at best.

Disciple Bible Study came closest to delivering transformation, but ultimately “popular” did not translate into “effective.” Literally thousands of people have had wonderful, meaningful, enjoyable Disciple experiences. However, a variety of independent follow-up evaluations indicate that there is a very low retention rate, that few people adopt sustained spiritual formation practices, and few report any transformed behavior in their daily lives. I hear about the handful whose lives were completely changed, and I do not devalue any such experience—but unless Disciple has been an integrated component of a comprehensive developmental process of spiritual formation, it remains a pleasant experience for the vast majority. ”

You can read the entire article on the United Methodist Portal’s website.

Book Review: The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood

“Thank you” – a simple phrase, but one that can go a long way and can often make someone’s day a little brighter, make a person feel appreciated, and recognize that what they do is important and meaningful. Giving thanks is one of the key components of generosity. To be a gracious giver, one must also be a gracious receiver, so it’s important to know how to give and receive thanks.

But when do we learn that saying “thank you” is so important? For many, we learn as children that it is important to say thank you. The phrase is viewed as a common courtesy, it is viewed as a sign of respect, and it is just… what you do. But the true meaning of  giving thanks is an important concept for a child to learn and understand. If we can teach children that thankfulness and gratefulness are the keys to happiness,  then we will undoubtedly see very happy children with a strong sense of compassion.

When I read through the childrens book “The Secret of Saying Thanks” by Douglas Wood, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for this text. The book is beautifully illustrated, the text is simple and easy to read, and the message is powerful. The beauty of generosity and thanks abounds through the pages and you are left with a positive and encouraging feeling when you’ve finished reading it.

This text is short and can be read with a child as a good bedtime story, but what makes it so special is the message of how important gracious giving and receiving is. If you are a Religious Educator, a parent, or simply someone who wants a refreshing short book to remind them of importance of giving thanks, “The Secret of Saying Thanks” may be a great book to pick up.

U.S. Giving Rose Overall During 2010

Individuals in the United Stated increased their philanthropic giving in 2010 by 2.1%, despite the pace of economic recovery. While this rate of increase still shows we have not rebounded to pre-recession levels, it is a “remarkable testament to the core values of Americans” says Patrick Rooney of Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy in their annual “Giving USA” report.

Giving to religious organizations dropped 0.8% in 2010, much less than the 2.3% drop for environmental and and animal welfare causes, and the 1.5% drop for human services, according to the report.
One piece of advice in the report is that persistence pays off – those who may have decreased or eliminated their giving during the recession are now slowly “regrowing their philanthropy.”
As we rebuild and reshape the economy for this next decade and beyond, our presence and our action as UU communities can ensure that giving to our UU churches remains an important piece of who we are and all that we represent.
For a more detailed summary of the report, please see the following article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which also contains a link to the entire report.

Learn more about Stewardship at General Assembly

General Assembly 2011 in Charlotte, NC has finally arrived! Director of Congregational Stewardship Services, Dr. Wayne Clark, is leading a number of workshops this year. For those of you interested in the new FORTH: A Stewardship Development program that was just launched, there is a two-part workshop that may be helpful in deciding if this program is right your congregation. Information is included below for your convenience.  We hope to see you there.

Thursday 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Convention Center 209 AB

Stewardship: Appreciative Inquiry and the Annual Budget Drive
Lead by Dr. Wayne Clark

How do you approach your annual budget drive? Do you focus on the problem of limited money? Do you
identify the root causes? AI turns these conversations inside out, asserting that positive approaches to change can transform your congregation. Come learn how to apply AI to your next annual budget drive.

Thursday 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Convention Center 209 AB

FORTH: Growth, Stewardship, and Leadership (Part 1)
Lead by Dr. Wayne Clark & Mark Ewert

Come learn about this new and comprehensive stewardship development program. By the end of the workshop, participants will know how to:
1) initiate FORTH
2) take an Appreciative approach to FORTH, and
3) gain access to FORTH products and Resources.
Handouts and time for questions will be provided.

Thursday 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Convention Center 209 AB

FORTH: Growth, Stewardship, and Leadership (Part 2)
Lead by Dr. Wayne Clark & Mark Ewert
This is the second of two FORTH workshops. (Participation in part 1 is not a prerequisite.)

FORTH is a stewardship development program, and this workshop focuses on improving lay and professional leadership skills. Learn how to implement FORTH in your own congregation, while activating growth and freeing-up resources.

Additionally, this year the Congregational Life Staff group will  be hosting Table Talks at the Congregational Life booth in the exhibit hall. Dr. Wayne Clark will be hosting two Table Talks on Stewardship. During this time, congregational leaders are encouraged to come to the Congregational Life booth and asked Wayne follow up questions regarding Workshops or stand alone questions on any stewardship topic.

Table Talk Information
Location: #721, Congregational Life Booth, Exhibit Hall
Date: Friday, June 24th at 2:30 and Saturday, June 25th at 2:30
Time: 30 Minutes
Topic: Any Stewardship-related questions

FORTH: A Stewardship Development Program has officially launched

We have some exciting news . . . .

FORTH: A Stewardship Development Program has been launched after four years of input from hundreds of congregational leaders. FORTH has been created because we know that some of the healthiest faith communities focus more on stewardship than fundraising. As noted in chapter one of Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship fundraising emphasizes the need of the recipient; stewardship addresses people’s spiritual need to give.

Take a look at FORTH. Start by watching the 8-minute introductory video and decide if you would like more information about how your congregation can adapt this year-round program to fit the unique needs of your congregation. You may also want to look some other new FORTH resources including The Art of Thriving and the Stewardship Self-Assessment pages.

You can join the FORTH Community by completing the Congregational Self-Assessment. Upon completion, you will have access to many free and helpful resources:

  • Several short videos of lay leaders who have had some experience with FORTH
  • Suggested Year Round Calendar
  • Recommended Stewardship Language
  • Sample Stewardship Team Job Description
  • Recommended Stewardship Team Formation and Charge
  • Stewardship Information and Ideas
  • Sample Organizational Charts
  • Annotated Bibliography (currently more than 130 items)
  • Operational Support for Effective Stewardship
  • Suggested Four-Year Activities

Once you have completed the Self-Assessment, you will receive an email from the Congregational Stewardship Services Administrator with information on accessing these resources. In this e-mail, the Administrator will include a link to the web pages with these resources and the username and password required for logging on to these pages. Please save this information.

Want to get your leaders involved in an exciting interactive process? Become a FORTH Partner by asking five of your congregational leaders (lay and/or professional) to complete the Congregational Self-Assessment and your congregation will gain access to all the resources listed above, plus these free interactive activities:

  • Closed Facebook group
  • Regularly scheduled conference calls
  • Occasional webinars hosted by UUA congregational stewardship consultants
  • Updates distributed through Constant Contact

After five of your congregational leaders have completed the Self-Assessment, Wayne Clark will create a profile for your congregation, sending it to your FORTH Partner contact person. Information about FORTH Partner activities will soon follow.

Interested in some on-site consultation from a UUA stewardship consultant? Ask us about our fee-for-service program, with a sliding scale to match the size of your congregation.

Questions? Contact Us

Wayne Clark, wclark @ uua. org (207) 829-4550

Mark Ewert, mewert @ generositypath . com (202) 722-8888

Brent Jurgess, forth @ uua . org (617) 948-4272

Signs of living (and dying) churches

Is your church alive or is it dying? Take a look at the following whimsical poem to see if you recognize your congregation.

Living and Dying Churches
(Adapted from Pilgrim United Church of Christ newsletter, Port Charlotte, Florida by UU minister the Reverend Sam Trumbore)

Living churches always have a parking problem; dying churches don’t.
Living churches are constantly changing their methods; dying churches don’t have to.
Living churches have lots of noisy kids; dying churches are quiet.
Living churches expenses always exceed their income; dying churches take in more than they ever dream of spending.
Living churches are constantly improving and planning for the future; dying churches worship the past.
Living churches grow so fast you forget people’s names; dying churches you’ve known everyone’s names for years.
Living churches move forward and out in faith; dying churches operate totally by sight.
Living churches support community work heavily; dying churches keep it all at home.
Living churches are filled with healthy pledgers; dying churches are filled with tippers.
Living churches dream great dreams of beloved community; dying churches relive nightmares.
Living churches have the fresh wind of love blowing; dying churches are stale with bickering.
Living churches don’t have can’t in their vocabulary; dying churches have nothing but.
Living churches EVANGELIZE, dying churches fossilize.

‘Secret Ingredient’ in Religion Makes People Happier

The following post has been excerpted from the December 9, 2010 issue of Science Daily and shared with us by stewardship consultant Larry Wheeler. The article supports our long held belief that there is a clear connection between community building and successful annual budget drives; stronger congregational communities create many financially committed donors.

Does your congregation have that secret ingredient?

‘Secret Ingredient’ in Religion Makes People Happier.

While the positive correlation between religiosity and life satisfaction has long been known, a new study in the December issue of American Sociological Review reveals religion’s ‘secret ingredient’ that makes people happier.

“Our study offers compelling evidence that it is the social aspects of religion rather than theology or spirituality that leads to life satisfaction,” said Chaeyoon Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study. “In particular, we find that friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier.” (more…)