Congregations: Thriving This Fall

congregations Aug 04, 2022

As we approach the Fall, here are some tips for your congregation. We are in what I consider STORM conditions. I think most of you will benefit from a "Get everyone in lifeboats ASAP!!!" approach -- this means small groups, prioritizing and promoting group life, and helping newcomers bypass all barriers between them and face-to-face community experiences (online and onsite).



CHAPTERS
Jump to video YouTube video chapters using time code links below or in YouTube video description.

(0:00) Welcome
(
0:40) Training Preview
(
1:00) Digital is here to stay
(
2:30) Hour long online worship not a viable first step
(
5:00) Prioritize lifeboats = small groups!
(
6:26) Expect group-LESS people to drift away
(
7:20) Designing a viable congregation
(
8:30) Different types of groups
(
10:20) Connecting worship and group life
(
12:25) If you have declining membership
(
13:18) Use video to communicate and connect
(
14:20) Engaging with video now essential skill
(
15:00) Digital is a primary context of...

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Making Innovation a Community Practice

community congregations Apr 05, 2022
With the rate of change in our world accelerating, we need a new approach to changing our approach!   I believe we need to "institutionalize innovation" and make experimentation, exploration, and play a community practice.
 
Many leaders have a process whereby they SET their approach, model, process, methods, etc... and use it until it stops working in a major way. 
 
Then, after frustration and associated debate, there is a focused process launched to assess the problem and "fix" it.  That might include bringing in an expensive outside expert and perhaps a major redesign of communications or staffing.  Then, once the new way is established and everything seems to be in working order, that way gets locked down.  
 
This no longer works.   Things are changing too quickly. 
 
Instead, we need to develop a mindset and process that is more like surfing on the edge of constant change. 
 
Given the rate of...
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5 Shifts Tipping Congregations Toward Decline

congregations Mar 23, 2022

The following is the replay from my March 24, 2022, live strategy session discussing the following question:

 "Changes in US society and culture seem to have made organized religion less relevant to our population. How can churches change how they "do church" to make them more relevant?"

What should congregations do in response to the decline of organized religion?  My short answer: Change HOW you organize!

Today's culture demands new approaches to how you lead, design, and facilitate congregational life.

Here are the 5 shifts I discuss in this video:

Shift 1: Where people spend their time and attention.

Shift 2: How people learn, research, and make decisions.

Shift 3: What online visitors need from congregations.

Shift 4: What people want from their leaders.

Shift 5: How people want their communities to be led.

The good news is that these cultural shifts are all things that congregations can adapt to.  If you have the desire, smartphones, and internet access, you...

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Crafting Engaging "Messages for All Ages"

How do you design messages for online services that are engaging for children, families, and people of all ages? This question comes from a colleague in a congregational setting.

In the video below,  I share how I approach designing messages focused on sharing a specific teaching, insight, or life lesson. 

This draws on my experience working with preschoolers through elders, working as a producer and educator on nationally syndicated children's television shows, and coaching leaders on video & digital strategy.

This is ROUND 1 in response to my colleague's question.  Do you have follow-up questions?

I'm collecting follow-up questions in the video comments and via my online questions box form. After I collect questions, I'll do a follow-up video. 


If video won't play, watch it on YouTube here.  I'm having trouble with Firefox for some reason. Thx! Peter (1/27/22) 

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What is Digital Ministry? Marketing vs. Doing Ministry

For congregations to thrive in today's digitally oriented world, it is important to understand how DIGITAL MINISTRY differs from SOCIAL MEDIA and MARKETING.

The digital ministry shift is a move from using social media solely to promote ministry opportunities to actually doing ministry on social media. 

Yes, we need to promote and market events. That's true.  But to harness the power of social media we need to go further!   

In this episode, I share a concrete example related to educating and orienting newcomers.  That's right...  How to move your welcoming and membership ministry online using social! 

Watch or listen below. 

 

Listen to this episode via my podcast:
You may play it below or click the icons (left to right) to subscribe, download, embed, or share this episode.

 

Episode Notes

Social Media

Think about all the different social media platforms we have. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  Video posting platforms,...

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On Technology, Staffing & Multi-Platform Ministry

Is your congregation considering new tech staffing?  This is for you!  Please share this with any congregation you know who is in discernment on this issue. 

Here's the question I keep getting, often when the process is far along and jobs are being threatened....

Question:

Peter, should we downsize our existing program staff and invest in a full-time tech person?

Quick Answer:  No! In my professional opinion that's a horrible idea for most congregations.  Better to invest in your existing staff & volunteers, cultivate new volunteers, see how far you can go and grow together, adding tech & media skills and associated tasks to portfolios of your staff and volunteers.  If there are tech tasks that you must have covered, start with temporary contracts to supplement your existing team.

Watch this for my long answer:

 


All congregations need to be working to develop their media and tech capacity. But this shouldn't be implemented as knee-jerk...

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Digital Ministry Accelerator Program - Overview and Feedback Requested

Update: Based on your feedback I'm 100% redesigning my training programs!  Make sure you sign up to get training updates. Details are coming out the week of June 23, 2021.

 

Friends, here's an overview of my new Digital Ministry Accelerator program, DMAX for short.  It is a 12-week program for Unitarian Universalist parish ministers (this round) and their congregations.  Interested ministers, I'd love your feedback! 

Please complete this brief program survey: SURVEY COMPLETED

Your responses will help me finalize the program design and the day and time we'll hold our weekly strategy sessions.    Thank you!

 

 

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Peter Bowden on the UU podcast "The Flame" by Roddy Biggs

Friends, recently I had the opportunity to be a guest on the new Unitarian Universalist podcast "The Flame" by Roddy Biggs!

Grateful for the chance to reflect on a range of issues related to UU life, ministry, media, and the pandemic through this conversation.  Thanks, Roddy!  

If you'd like to have future episodes delivered to your device, subscribe to The Flame podcast.

About the podcast

The Flame is a Unitarian Universalist faith-centered podcast offering voices and stories of hope, love, resilience, and community. Witness real conversations, ones that sometimes tackle challenging topics but safely and bravely. Whether you are a lifelong Unitarian Universalist, new to the faith, or this is the first time you are hearing of the Unitarian Universalist faith, I welcome you just as you are.

 
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Pandemic Ministry: Leadership, Clarity, and Uncertainty

As we enter year two of the pandemic, uncertainty is a core aspect of our ministry context.  How can we lead when so much is unknown? 

Leaders and their congregations must have great clarity of mission and the vision they want to work toward.  To work toward a clear mission-driven vision,  facing the unknown as a community together is the path. 

We can't have productive conversations about models, approaches, and staffing if we don't have clarity on our mission in 2021 and a powerful vision specific to our present ministry context.

YouTube video chapters
(0:00) Welcome
(3:19) Covid19 Year One. 
(7:28) Covid19 Year Two?
(9:16) Leadership, Clarity, and Uncertainty


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Interview with the Rev. Christana Wille McKnight

In this interview with the Rev. Christana Wille McKnight, minister of First Parish in Taunton, MA , we discuss the principles and strategies that helped this Unitarian Universalist congregation move from being at risk of closing to becoming a thriving small congregation playing a major role in Taunton’s revitalization efforts.  

Get the "Playbook"
Rev. Christana Wille McKnight has kindly shared a Google Doc on the 11 points we discussed in this interview.  To get the playbook, click here to open the Google Doc and then hit the add to drive icon to save a link to it in your drive.

WATCH


VIDEO  CHAPTERS
(0:00) Countdown
(
0:43) Welcome
(
2:00) Overview of Transformation
(
6:00) Rev. Christana Wille McKnight's "playbook"'
(
6:25) 1. Live Invitational Culture
(
9:29) 2. Use Accessible Language
(
12:05) 3. Put Your Words into Action
(
17:15) 4. Create Intentionally Welcoming Community
(
19:20) 5. Reflect Your Community and Context.
(
20:48) 6. Understand that Every...

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