David Keyes for Your Congregation 2017-01-05T15:55:22+00:00

David Keyes Consulting

Solutions for Congregations
Governance :: Staffing :: Administration :: Finances :: & More

Churches can get stuck.  Or stumped.

Sometimes traditional ways of operating don’t match the today’s realities.  Sometimes the time-honored methods have somehow become unhelpful sacred cows that need sensitive, objective examination.

Good organizations with good people sometimes need the support of knowledgeable, experienced, innovative professionals.

I am an experienced church transition manager and organizational development specialist. I have served many congregations as an interim minister who prepared the churches I served for successful ministries.

I am now focused on consulting with congregations who are ready for intelligent change.

“No one knows more about transitions in UU congregations than David. ”

“David Keyes’ advice to our congregation continues to percolate, both at leadership tables and within our leaders. Percolate captures the way his analysis and recommendations seem to bubble up in challenging and helpful ways. No one knows more about transitions in UU congregations than David. His reputation for honesty is well deserved. The gift of his consulting work is how he uses that wisdom and honesty to empower leadership and expand horizons. His specific recommendations were extremely helpful, but far more helpful has been the process of discernment his work stimulated and continues to inform.”

— Bill Sinkford, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church, Portland, Oregon
Past President of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Solutions & Action Plans (Services)

Collaboration and tailor-made plans to fit the need of every congregation or organization–that’s my way of doing business. While some consultants offer pre-molded package or charge a flat fee, I want to calibrate our work to fit your needs and your budget. Below are some sample services and plans, but together, we can make a plan that addresses your needs.

What is the right staffing for our organization today and in the future?

Are we staffed for our congregation, or for the benefit of our staff?  Is there such a thing as “staffing for growth”?  What can we afford?

Complete plan covering all three areas. Based on an initial three days on site listening to staff and members, four days of research and writing with some telephone interviews, and two days for presentation and fine-tuning.

Why is service on our board viewed as a chore instead of an honor and opportunity?  Are decisions really made in democratic ways, or behind the scenes by staff or a shadow board?  Can we get clear about who plays what role? Can we stop chasing rabbits?

Three-day workshops for board, staff and congregation to introduce the essentials of good governance.

Complete governance transformation service including on-going consulting to meet the needs of your congregation.

What is a realistic income for our congregation? Can we really do away with the annual pledge drive? Is our money being handled well? Are reports adequate and accurate? What development strategy will work for us? 

Four days on-site to meet with financial leaders and staff. Two days research and writing.

Management of pledge drive or special fundraising campaign is also available.

What are the strengths of our congregation on which we can build? How do we involve the membership without dwelling on complaints?  How do we find out who we are and what we want to become? Can we get folks out of their heads and into their feelings without going all woo-woo?

A two-day launch of your AI process, including training for the supervising team.  Or, five days of on-site leadership to lead the entire process.

Should we consider a succession plan for our senior minister or key staff person?  When is it time for the leader to go, and how can that be gracefully managed? Can we set realistic goals for the interim? How do we best select and prepare a search committee?

Five days of listening to the congregation plus five days of research and writing for a complete transition evaluation.

Ongoing consulting for maximum benefits from the time of transition.

Rev. David Keyes, Church Consultant

Rev. David Keyes

About Rev. David Keyes

Highlights of my Experience and Strengths

  • Leadership experience in large and leading congregations over more than 30 years.

  • Proven ability to shape workable governance, solve staffing issues, and increase giving.

  • Consultant on major staffing and administration action plan for the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, one of the largest churches in the denomination. (2015-2016)

  • Consultant, mentor and coach for staff and laity at six Unitarian Universalist congregations. (2015-2016)

  • Interim Senior Minister at nine large and leading congregations. Healing transition ministries; grappling with governance and staffing issues, increasing giving, clarifying visions. (2000-2015)

David is a loving man. He served our congregation faithfully and wholeheartedly, doing exactly what he was asked and expected to do, namely to break up shadow power structures, reorient the congregation towards a new more focused religious mission, and reorganize staff to serve this mission most effectively. He has a comforting patient and accepting pastoral presence, sensing and responding to individual needs with compassionate listening and understanding.

David Mctaggart, Senior Board Member, UU Church of Arlington, Virginia

Working with David Keyes has been like undertaking a graduate level course in change management, leadership, and mission-focused organizations.  He does everything with intent and clarity, and achieves results.  For a congregation looking to become vibrant and relevant to their community, and for church leadership looking to be effective and inspired, the Reverend Dr. Keyes is the ideal person.  

Linda Olson Peebles, Past President, UU Ministers Association

“Dr. Keyes’s Q & A session on Policy Governance helped the Board, other elected leaders and staff grapple with the implications of clarifying roles, authority, responsibility and accountability, and enabled them to move with confidence toward full implementation of Policy Governance. His straight-forward, well-grounded responses, offered with humility and humor, were often quoted in Board meetings in the ensuing months as the Board drafted their Ends and Limitations Policies, shared them with the congregation, and ultimately adopted them.”

Emily Melcher, Accredited Interim Minister

David Keyes has a keen sensitivity to church dynamics and institutional systems.  His previous work as a large church interim minister has honed not only his skills, but has sharpened his perceptions.  He is able to analyze a congregation’s strengths and challenges through a combination of thoughtful analysis, many years of experience and compassionate wisdom. He brings to his consulting practice the ability to speak the truth, tempered by a deep love for the institutional church.

Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Co-Minister (2000-2015) West Shore UU Church, Cleveland Ohio

“You challenged us to rethink how we would continue our journey together as a committed people of faith, and we have redefined and refined roles, and our governance has started becoming more democratic and effective. You have challenged us to expand our personal and collective understandings of the Unitarian Universalist movement, and we have discovered a new and rapidly developing spiritual understanding. We have rediscovered and rebuilt our capacity to make a difference in people’s lives, and we have become a re-emergent church poised for greatness.”

John Bohman, President of the Arlington, Virginia UU congregation


  • D.Min. San Francisco Theological Seminary. Congregational Studies. 1997

  • M.Div. Starr King School for the Ministry, 1985

  • M.A. in Journalism, University of Missouri, 1971

  • B.S. University of Missouri 1966

Activities and Awards

  • Cornish Award for leadership in international congregational connections, UU Partner Church Council, 2013

  • Westwood Award for “entrepreneurial spirit” “nurturing congregations” and “building healthy congregations.” UUA, 2010

  • Member, Task Force on Ministerial Training and Credentialing , International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, 2008-2009.

  • Senior Ministers of Large UU Congregations (SMOLUUC) Conferences, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

  • Faculty, Introduction to Interim Ministry, UUA, 1999-2007.

  • Harvard Divinity School, postgraduate studies and projects with senior faculty, 1986-1987.

  • Author of numerous papers and speaker on ministerial transitions and congregational change.

  • Many Alban Institute and other seminars on congregational dynamics.

Getting Started

Call me at 415-271-7184 or send an email (info@keyes4thechurch.com) describing the challenges you are facing or the opportunities your congregation wants to take advantage of.

I want to hear about your situation and your hopes for the future. There is no charge for our initial conversation.

Even if you are not certain whether you need or can afford an outside consultant, I would like to talk it through with you.

Rev. David Keyes

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