Announcing Jan 4th, 2014 Social Media Intensive for Congregational Leaders

Like - Social Media

Friends, on January 4, 2014 I will be leading a social media intensive for congregational leaders.  This event is being held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, AZ.   If you are a minister, congregational staff or volunteer interacting with human beings in the United States with internet access and mobile technology,  this event is for you.   Registration is open nation-wide. Hope you can join us!   Full Details & Registration ~ Peter   

Social Media for Ministry, Outreach and  Membership Growth with Peter Bowden

January 4th, 2014  *  Tucson, AZ

Oh yeah!  Join us...

Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions.  This has significant implications for congregations, from  how we share our news and announcements, to how we invite people into membership. For our congregations to thrive in the 21st Century, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with purpose, skill and integrity.  Join us for this day-long social media intensive for congregational leaders!

Event Location
Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson
4831 East 22nd Street Tucson, AZ 85711

Event Sponsors
Special thanks to our sponsoring congregations and the Rev. Charles Gaines, my mentor,  for helping to make this event possible.


“Peter’s passion for social media communications and Unitarian Universalism is contagious. His vision for our future is something we need to learn and embrace.” – Don Southworth, UUMA Executive Director

“Peter provided our team with an opportunity to learn together about social media giving us a common understanding of the benefits and costs of utilizing it. His enthusiasm for social media is infectious, making us feel not only that implementing it is possible and perhaps inevitable as our world continues to evolve.” — Sara D., Church Administrator, Cedar Lane UU Church.

“Peter’s training on Social Media was clear, instructive, and interactive. He is dynamic, engaging and brings an enthusiasm to his sessions that is contagious. I recommend him highly.” — Mark Bernstein, Regional Growth Development Consultant, Central East Region of the UUA

New UU Crowdfunding Platform, and Faithful Risk Fund to honor Gini Courter

Gin Courter - Faithful Risk Fund

Update 6/26:  The Faithful Risk Fund is in Gini’s honor, not the platform… There was talk about a crowd sourcing platform as part of honoring her, but that was already in development by the Mass Bay and Clara Barton Districts.  So the platform is a collaboration with first $10,000 in donations supporting its development.

Friends, at our recent General Assembly conference a new UU crowdfunding platform was announced, as well as a “Faithful Risk” fund to honor Gini Courter, UUA Moderator. (UU World coverage).   Scroll down for how I want to raise $100,000 for this fund $5 at a time…   


Inspired, in part, by the Minns Lecture I offered with the Rev. Naomi King, this fundraising platform and fund will allow Unitarian Universalists who are called to creative, innovative and experimental (a.k.a. risky) ministries and ministry projects to reach out to UUs for funding.

Before you surf away, do me a favor.  At a minimum share this post via your social media channels. Share it with someone you know who has $5.  Just scroll to end of post and click a few share buttons.  Thanks!  If YOU do that, and others too, we’re golden.  Like “UU love people shirt” golden…

Using this platform a project requiring $10,000 could be funded by 100 UUs offering $100, or 1,000 offering $10.  Projects could range from small amounts, or it could go bigger…. Who knows!  And that’s the beauty.  We don’t know what will happen or what kind of projects will come forward.  We just know that Unitarian Universalism needs them to come forward, and we need a way to make space for them, affirm them, support them, and to learn together through the process.

For the last two years I’ve had seminarians, lay ministers, and our clergy asking me about this sort of project.  So, I must thank the Rev. Naomi King for our collaboration on the Minns Lectures which helped inspire Gini, and to Gini for choosing to have this fund and fundraising platform be one of her many gifts to our association, and part of her and Naomi’s legacy to our larger faith.

$100,000 to honor Gini and launch fund

Now, to honor Gini appropriately I don’t think just having a dribbly slow start to this fund will do.  No… That will not do…  Do you?   I’d didn’t think so.

Together, I would like us to raise $100,000 to kick it off.  Doesn’t that sound good?  Wouldn’t that be a mighty accomplishment?  Wouldn’t you like to see the look on Gini’s face?


$5 x 20,000 UUs = $100,000

Will you join me in donating $5 to support this new effort?  I’m looking for 20,000 gifts of $5.  You got $5?  Skip a couple Starbucks and we’re there. Right?  People, I need you on this one.  As Vanessa Southern said in her GA sermon, “Let’s dive in together.”

If you love Gini, if you love the idea of our using our funds to power new creative and innovative ministries that are just too small or weird or risky or whatever usually leads these important experiments NOT to be funded,  make a donation.

Thank you for helping us launch this big time!

In faith,Peter Bowden

PS – Below is our Minns Lecture video (full). You may watch in short segments here.

Why you aren’t reaching young adults and families with children

The following guest post is by Kelly Mahler, a former 3D artist, SAHM (stay-at-home mother), Unitarian Universalist since 2007, and member of the UU Growth Lab on Facebook.  Thanks for sharing your experience and suggestions, Kelly!   I totally relate as a parent of a young child.  11am? Uh, that’s lunch time!  ~ Peter

While reading the UU Growth lab on Facebook, I came across a post that caught my attention. The question asked was, “How can we more effectively reach out to and involve young adults and families with children as fully participating congregants?”

I don’t often participate in these online discussions, but this topic was something near and dear to me, considering I’m one of those young parents many UU churches refer to. Having been a former board member in my twenties, and now quickly closing in on my thirties (with a toddler in tow), I wanted to share my experience and perspective regarding how my involvement with my own UU church has changed over time and why those changes have happened.

I used to be quite busy at my UU church before my baby came along (even serving on the board for a time). Now I am a stay at home mom to a 19 month old. My attendance and involvement have changed drastically. What are some of the reasons that hold me back from being more involved? Sometimes it can be the little things (like a church not having changing tables in the bathrooms or nursery), but there are other issues as well that sometimes hold me (and other parents) back from being more involved.

1) Service time – our service is 11-12am, with coffee hour right after the service. Back when I had just graduated from college, I loved this time slot. Now with a kid, however, that is a tough time to make. It’s lunch time for many children, and it’s not easy making a kid wait to eat until 1pm (tantrums, anyone?), especially when their nap is usually around noon or 1pm. If the service time were earlier, we could get in and get home for lunch and nap without major headaches. Likewise, we usually don’t attend anything too late in the evenings due to conflicts with bedtime.

2) Lack of confidence in childcare providers. Ours are very nice, but they are a bit young and sometimes the judgment calls they make seem questionable to me (like letting my kid cry the entire hour of service and never coming to retrieve me to settle her down). Perhaps we need more training for our providers on handling issues such as these.

3) Activities, groups, events that I can’t relate to or that are not kid friendly. I don’t want every meeting or event I attend to require that I use the church childcare service. I would much rather have my child be a part of it, and have her see adults modeling good behavior. I realize this is not possible a lot of the time, but perhaps we should be thinking specifically on what kinds of events could be scheduled that would create opportunities for our children to participate.

4) Limited opportunities for staying in the loop when you can’t attend. Even with a newsletter and website, not enough information is communicated outside of the church walls to keep you in the loop – especially if you frequently can’t attend. It’s a compounding problem. The more you miss out, the “further behind” you feel. I wish our services were recorded and available on our website. I wish more info was provided in various communications.

5) No one has asked. It’s not that you are forgotten as a parent in church… but it does sometimes feel like people assume that you won’t be interested or that you are too busy due to having a child. Even if we say that life is busy with our children, that shouldn’t be taken to mean that we aren’t wanting to be asked to help on occasion. ESPECIALLY, if it could be a good fit – something that aligns well with that congregant’s interests or skills.

6) Outdated forms of communication. Email, phone, snail mail… I hardly ever respond to theses kinds of communications – not on purpose, mind you, but it just seems to happen. I wish my church utilized texting more, or could send out texts about things going on (kind of like how businesses do text advertising). This would help keep me in the loop better. I also would prefer if church members/leaders contacted me via Facebook or texts when they want to communicate with me directly. Email is not my preferred method of communication anymore. It seems antiquated.

7) Expecting attendance for planning purposes. I don’t understand why people want to meet in person just to plan things. In most cases, all of the planning can be handled via text, Facebook, Google+, shared Google documents, online chatting, Skype, or Google hangouts. This is so much easier than packing the kids up and all that that entails (or having to arrange for childcare).

8) Finally, there are other “groups” or “communities” doing it better. Namely, a lot of the moms groups out there are doing a better job. The Moms group I’m involved in provides many more opportunities that my child and I can relate to; the kinds of events that my church does not provide. Think playdates, mommy breaks, baby gyms, Funflatables, miniature golf, zoo, etc, as well as community outreach- outreach that doesn’t require us to be separate from our kids. Examples include bake sales, knitting for charity, 5Ks that allow strollers, craft sales, and more. All of it is managed and planned digitally. We don’t meet in person for planning purposes, we do it via text, Facebook, Meetup, and the like.

I have already addressed some of the above issues with my church. Other issues, I regret to say, I have not brought up much, if at all, with fellow congregants or lay leaders. Maybe it’s due to being busy. Maybe it’s due to the inability to make it to many meetings and services. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can so quickly and easily find other support systems and outlets out there via the internet, social networking, and Meetup. Either way, upon writing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that a congregation can’t grow if we don’t speak up about our concerns, and our lay leaders certainly can’t read our minds. We Millenials need to speak up if we want to see changes happening. We can’t expect our churches to always anticipate our needs, our communication styles, or our differences from generation to generation.

I have decided that rather than leave this discussion to the boundaries of the UU Growth Lab and online blogging, it would be worthwhile to send my thoughts onward to the board at my church. I hope they see it as something encouraging – an opportunity for discussion and growth – rather than a critique of “everything that is wrong.” I encourage you to do the same with your own congregation.

It’s your church, too – don’t passively wait for your lay leaders or fellow congregants to anticipate your needs. Rise to the occasion and shape it into the loving, supportive community you envision.

Kelly Mahler

“Young Adults” image courtesy of photostock /

Millennial UU Innovators Discussion Google Hangout

The following is the archived video of the live Millennial UU Innovators Discussion Google Hangout convened by Carey McDonald on June 5, 2013.  Total running time 1 hour.

Now you may be asking, how do these things get scheduled and how do I get involved?   Join the UU Growth Lab on Facebook!  Many great conversations happening and connections  being formed there…  Not on Facebook?  Well, you really need to be if you want to be part of our 21st Century UU leadership. Its how we’re organizing….

3-day UU Social Media intensive next week!

Peter and daughter enjoying porch/rocking chairs at 2011 Star Island Lifespan RE Week

Friends, just received these details for the three-day option we’ve created for those who want to attend the mid-week portion of my social media track next week.  A few people still trying to join us for this  Tue — Thur option  featuring sessions on Facebook, Twitter, and online video for UU congregations. The following details are from email sent out this morning by the conference organizers. Hope you can join us!  -Peter

Can’t make our full conference?
Join us for a mid-week 3-day UU Social Media intensive!

Tuesday, July 17 – Thursday, July 19
Peter Bowden, leader of our week-long social media track, has adapted his program to allow for a Tues to Thurs option—featuring sessions on Facebook, Twitter, and online video.
Interested? Register ASAP!
LRE Registration Fee: $30/day
Room/board charged as personal retreat.
For pricing, details, and to register, visit:

Interested in attending other days?
We’re working to maximize participation and fill our remaining open seats! Let us know.

The following is the full program description:

Social Media for Ministry & Outreach
Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions. This has significant implications for congregations. For our ministry to thrive in the 21st Century, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with skill and integrity. With a focus on ministry and outreach, we will explore major social networking tools including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (video). After rave reviews last year, we are bringing Peter back to lead another round of his social media intensive for congregational leaders. This year will include even more material on integrating video into our ministry with all ages!

Reflections on Ministry UUA Video Series

In this video series from the Unitarian Universalist Association,  religious professionals reflect on Unitarian Universalist ministry in all its forms.  Each video ranges from 2 to 4 minutes.  According to the Rev. Harlan Limpert, UUA Vice President for Ministries and Congregational Support Administration,  the last videos in the series will be released over the next two weeks.  If you don’t see your video here, stay tuned! ~ Peter

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – What do you love about ministry?
Updated version – 12/12/2011

Unitarian Universalist (UU) ministers respond to the question, “What do you love about ministry”? In two minutes and six seconds, ten current UU ministers describe what they love about being in ministry. Very moving.

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – What are the challenges of ministry?

Unitarian Universalist ministers respond to the question, “What are the challenges of ministry?” Five UU ministers describe briefly the challenges of being in ministry.

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – What is the core of your calling?

Five Unitarian Universalist ministers talk about the core of their calling.

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – How is your ministry transformative?

Four Unitarian Universalist ministers talk about how their ministries are transformative.

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – How possible is work-life balance?

Six Unitarian Universalist religious professionals talk about whether it’s possible to find work-life balance in their ministries.

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – So you think you have a calling?

Five Unitarian Universalist provide advice to those who think they may have a calling for ministry.

What questions should you ask yourself about ministry

What questions should you ask when considering the ministry.
Five UU music professionals talk about their music ministries.

Unitarian Universalist Ministry – The ministry of military chaplaincy.

A Unitarian Universalist minister and active Navy chaplain shares the joys and challenges of military chaplaincy.

Three Unitarian Universalist ministers of color reflect on their ministries.