Friday, October 13, 2006
I'd love to see more focus on UU's starting churches. I think our existing congregations would do better within an environment of competition.
Boston & Providence, the larger cities in my area, have room for far more UU congregations. My home church in Providence has at most 400 members. It is practically ON the Brown University and RISD campuses. It should have 900 members easy.
How many people in your community would be Unitarian Universalists if they either knew about US or if your congregation made room for THEM?
If you're a UU in the middle of nowhere. Do me a favor, start a church. All you need to do is start with a healthy understanding of small group ministry. Other denominations use small groups, or CELL MINISTRY, as the foundation for building churches of all sizes. So here's what you do. Start a kick@$$ UU small group out of your home. Just you and your friends. Access all the great info from www.smallgroupministry.net. Read the start up info on this website .
The trick is to not only lead a great group, but from the start to uphold the vision of growing into more groups, developing more leaders, and through this process changing the world. In the process you may create a new church, but don't make that your top goal. Make your goal creating enough liberal groups for all the liberals and progressives on Earth. It is about life change, world change, leadership development, and upholding this vision. Cell ministry is a clearly articulated ministry model with plenty of available resources. Just couple that with a compelling vision of brining people together in community, service and action.
Presto! You're on your way.
So, why don't we do it? Probably because to be successful we'd need to do some things Unitarian Universalists can't or won't do. The successful Unitarian Universalist church of the future most likely will not look like a Unitarian Universalist church by the standards of our present leadership. Know the "Evolve Fish" you see on car bumpers? I like to think of UUism as being the fish that came JUST BEFORE that one. It has almost everything it needs. It just has to figure out how to breath out of the water -- we're so close.
...While working on the mechanics of the sports blogs, he plans to embark next year on building real-world destinations for progressives and liberals throughout the Midwest, "cultural outposts" designed to attract thousands of like-minded liberals. "Each one of these would have a vast left-wing conspiracy component," he says, like leadership training or discussions on progressive issues. It's big talk, even for a guy with an uncanny talent for bringing lonely, passionate people together online. The real world will be more challenging.
A few UU things that need evolving include a name, a message you can share without a cheat sheet, a pathways or tracks for growth that can be identfied, and the know-how to replicate what works by rising up new leaders with this knowledge. We've got a long way to go. But I do think we can do it.
How do we evolve into a movement that can spread? What do we have to change? I'll start the list and you can chime in.
We need to...
- Have a viable brand name that can be remembered by the children.
- Have a vision, mission, and/or purpose and principles that adults - including professional leadership - can articulate clearly.
- Know that you have to have an environment and coffee that rivals starbucks.
- Have a clear pathways for personal growth and development
- Offer leadership development that goes beyond either you're a lay person or your a fully trained ordained called and salaries minister with more debt and responsibility than you'd really like.
- Develop organizational processes for making statements and taking action that are not so brutal that people choose to leave to find a more efficient and nimble organization to work through.
- Get clue about youth . Yes, youth want to be empowered, but they want to be empowered to do something that matters.
For example, I think all UU youth should graduate and head off into the world as trained small group faciltitators who know how to lead groups that are life changing, organize a group anywhere they go, know how to develop session plans (content) and worship for their groups, and know how to train their group members to do everything they know how to do.
PS - Dear Mr. Markos Moulitsas, I'd be happy to help you with your project. Most leaders of our Unitarian Universalist movement still haven't grasped the role small groups, leadership development, and grassroots organization need to play in changing the world. You can reach me at 401 855-0037 to schedule an appointment.
PPS - Dear Rev. William Sinkford, I'd be happy to help the UUA as well. You just have to pony up the cash for a consulting or staff position. Your small group ministry budget and staff should be moving towards the size of the Youth Office. Make that happen and you'll be the UUA President who helped the UUA learn to walk on dry land. You can reach me at 401 855-0037 to schedule an appointment.