Resources from the Management Center

I was talking to a friend tonight about management — church management in particular — and once again turned back to a favorite resource, the Management Center.

I can recommend their courses, but if you live too far from where they offer them (or it filled up) then be sure to get the companion book,

Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results, a snip at less than $20. And their on-line resources have a lot to teach.

Just a brief post to point out a great help

A page full of handbooks!

So, I was talking with a couple of people: what would we do if the Unitarian Universalist Association ceased to exist? Not a death wish, but contingency planning. And a way of identifying what’s a must-have and not just a might-want.

Someone mulled, “what does the NACCC do?” That’s the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, made up of churches that did not join the United Church of Christ on polity grounds. I’ve been long interested in them, as some of the Universalist churches that didn’t join the UUA “went NA”. Also, First Parish, Plymouth, and Universalist National Memorial Church, both members of the UUA have honorary membership. And the Council of Christian Churches in the UUA has — I believe — “fraternal relations.” In short, they’re close to us. Sorta.

And famous (or infamous) for having a lean administration. The kind that the UUA might back into, or be replaced-by.

So I was just browsing their site and noticed they have a single easy-to-find page with helpful handbooks ready to download.

That just made my day. Something to emulate.

Source: Handbooks (NACCC)

Kentucky joins the unincorporated nonprofits club

I’ve written about the option of organizing churches as unincorporated nonprofit associations in states that provided for them by law. That provides structure and protections more like what you have in a nonprofit corporation but with fewer complications. Unfortunately, that’s not too many states. Last month, Kentucky joined the club.

Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law new regulations making the governance of nonprofits and the management of small associations easier.

Source: Kentucky Updates Rules Governing Nonprofits—For the Better – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly

Things to try out

Now, with the preaching done for the day, I’m trying out three technology fixes:

  • to find the best (that is, most appropriate and quickest to learn) tool for modifying images for a website, social media and the like.
  • to see which of the static web development tool would work best for something like a church website, particularly reviewing Jekyll, Middleman and Pelican. Even better if I can use the super-cheap Amazon S3 service with it.
  • to try out the lightweight Midori browser, so we’ll see how that goes.

You might note a theme of lightening up.

Plans for 2015

I’m not much for resolutions: I rarely start well, forget them quickly and then late in the year reproach myself for failure. Why bother?

But I will make plans for the blog. I mean it both as a notebook for me and (more importantly) a resource and commentary for you, the readers. A review of blog traffic, feedback and my own thoughts lead me to focus on:

  • practical, ready-to-use resources for churches and individual believers
  • fresh interpretations of Universalist Christianity
  • skills to cope, survive and thrive in a changing world without snark or finger-wagging

I’ll also work on building readership, and would appreciate you help though referrals, plus links on blogs and in social networks.

Ah: I could write on boy bands, as so many seek them here, but I won’t consider that right now.

The little three-hole punch

While I’m mulling on whether or not to blog on the recent reportage about the Starr King School for the Ministry — it won’t be nice-nice-sweet-sweet if I do — I thought I would review a helpful bit of office equipment of particular use for ministers: the small three-hole punch, meant for 8.5 x 5.5 inch paper.

Over the years, I’ve written how-tos related to 8.5 x 5.5 sized print jobs. This is the size often used for orders of service, and is a good size for a DIY minister’s special services book. These days, I even put sermon notes and manuscripts in a 8.5 x 5.5 format, and into an appropriate binder. Why? It carries better, looks better and (for travel) packs better than a full-sized binder. It reads “book” more than “binder”.

You can print two 8.5 x 5.5 pages on one piece of 8.5 x 11 paper, and fold it into a small page protector, but they’re not always available, but once you have the hole punch…

This is what I bought, and despite what that page says, I got it in-store and there was a small variety of colors.

Mini hole punch

Serving the online church

I’ve signed up for so many accounts to manage my business relations with companies lately that I wonder what services a church — say, program-sized or larger — might offer online. I’m not suggesting that this suite of services already exists, or that everyone would find it desirable, but the such online services might expand utility to members (perhaps) with little or no added cost in staffing or facilities.

This list is far from exhaustive; just a few possibilities that occur to me over the course of about a half hour, in no particular order.

  • make financial pledges and special gifts
  • set up auto pay from credit card or checking account
  • download charitable donation letter
  • call for donations for affiliated charities
  • change address
  • take online trainings
  • register for space-limited events
  • download coloring pages for children
  • manage prayer circles
  • sign up (and get reminders) for church volunteer roles
  • get emergency alerts from authorities
  • offer feedback for quality improvement
  • apply for (and resign) membership
  • share alerts for road closures or public transportation re-routings
  • provide workflows to access public services
  • prepare and record special ceremonies (weddings, funerals)

Ubuntu Linux for Ministry: a feature for orders of service

So, this hasn’t been a weekly Thursday feature as I intended. Nor is this, properly speaking, a Ubuntu Linux-only feature, as it’s uses LibreOffice Writer, and that’s available for Windows and Mac OS X, too. (It is free and open-source software — FOSS — and you can get it here.)

A small thing — making it easy to put the information in an order of service (or a theater or music program) flush left and flush right respectively. Years ago, I would tab, tab, tab the biblical citation, or hymn name or the anthem composer over. Then I’d shim in extra spaces until the right margin wrapped to a new line…then I’d remove a space to pull the line back. It’s hacky, and never quite even. Here’s the right way.

Let’s start with a 5½ by 8½ inch page, as that’s letter paper folded in half and a common size for orders of service. And, for the sake of argument, half-inch margins. (Click the images to see them full-sized.)

To set the page size, use these menus. Format > Page > Page tab

Page style
Page style

Now, the idea of using tabs to set the left-hand information flush left and the right-hand information flush right isn’t entirely wrong. But the correct tab will be a “right tab” setting on the right margin. 5½ inch width, less a ½ inch margin on each side, and that means the “right tab” needs to be set at 4½ inches.

To add a tab, use these menus. Format > Paragraph >Tabs tab

Tabs tab
Tabs tab

As you see, you can use a “fill character” — like dots — to guide the eye. But that seems a little old-fashioned, so I didn’t; you may feel otherwise.

Which means in this example, you can type in “Opening hymn” and tab once to give its name.

Worked example
Worked example

And here is that file. Something to build on.

Is there something you’d like to see, to improve your church publications?

Coding for …?

In my experience, attempts to introduce technology lessons for lawyers means an opportunity for clergy, too. Small-firm lawyers and clergy very often have this much in common: a need for technology, perhaps more than is currently thought, and few opportunities to learn about it, even though they have a deep educational background. I mentioned this resource for typography, later generalized. (Bookmark that second link; you can thank me later.)

So I intend to follow Coding for Lawyers the same way. Using Markdown (lesson2) for sermons — I do — is something I’d recommend for those who just need to “get it on paper” with a minimum of fuss.

Thanks to @internetrebecca (Rebecca Williams) for the citation.