Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do UU seminaries train ministers to grow our movement?

I just heard that the UUA is restructuring how it funds our UU seminaries. Instead of funding seminaries they will be focusing on supporting the seminary students. A letter sent to Star King graduates states that this will amount to a $250,000 cut in funding to each institution -- Starr King and Meadville Lombard.

I read the UUWorld.org report on this. It mentions that 60-70 percent of UU seminarians do not attend UU seminaries. While I understand the logic, I hate the idea of not having multiple UU seminaries.

Here's my immediate, albeit late, reaction to this. GROW our movement. INCREASE the number of UUs. Drastically MULTIPLY the number of UU congregations. Move from a binary ministry model - you are or you aren't a minister - to a CONTINUUM of ministry.

I chalk this financial problem up to UU's doing a craptastic job of sharing our faith, sharing ministry and planting new churches. Not that tripling the # of UUs would fix these financial problems, but it wouldn't hurt.

Now, I'd love to check in with Starr King and Meadville Lombard and see what exists in their curricula as far as UU evangelism, church planting, small group ministry, cell ministry, and all those things that would be necessary to build a growth oriented UU ministry.

I don't know what they teach. I would love to find out.

How much of this is a chicken and the egg sort of phenomena? How many seminarians leave our "flagship" UU seminaries and go off and start a new UU congregation? Does our system allow for that? Could anyone afford to do that?

Maybe some brave soul can bring this up in the GA open space technology sessions. The OST question about our role as a faith community in this complex world could easily include a group focusing on how our view of ministry, "lay" ministry empowerment/training, and cultivation of ministers relate to our capacity to minister in this hurting world.

PS - Every time I guest preach and mention Open Space Technology people want to know what kind of gadgets are involved. NONE. It is a process. Not a techno-gizmo.

What your congregation needs to know about blogging

At General Assembly later this month the authors of philocrites.com, iminister, the chalice blog and I are leading a workshop on blogging. Scroll down for details.

Blogs and their related technologies are simply ways of letting people give you permission to deliver text, image, audio and video content to them automatically without their needing to surf to your site. Blogs and bog feeds automate content delivery. Take a look at what Mars Hill Chapel is doing. If you look at their "feeds" page you see that all of their content is set up so people can have it delivered to them. Amazing! Announcements served up fresh. That sermon you missed. The sweet sound of the choir...

A confession. My blog-life has been on hold while I'm in film school. Yes, my blogs have been demoted to sporatic on Philocrites guide to UU Blogs. Oh well - just two more months! Then I'll be done and can get on with fusing my TV and UU work. If you liked that little UU alien movie, lookout!

You know the internet is changing everything. It is time for our UU leaders need to know that congregations can use blogs to efficiently and inexpensively tell their story, communicate with friends, members and the larger community, and make congregations of all sizes feel smaller. If you are a UU blogger or blog reader and you have someone going to GA, send them our way!

If you or a rep from your congregation can't make it, I highly recommend the book The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey of Fellowship Church. Though our workshop will cover more ground than just congregational blogs, this book does a fabulous job discussing blogging for congregations and ministers. If you're minister or webmaster has been toying around with a church blog, get this book into their hands. After this read all will realize that blogs are powerful tool for communicating with your community.

If you haven't explored many UU blogs take a look at Philocrites guide to UU Blogs.

Friday 4:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

OCC Oregon Ballroom 204 [700]
#3064 Blogs: A New Generation in Communication
GA Planning Committee Sponsored

Unitarian Universalists are using blogs to share our message with thousands of readers online. What are they saying? A panel of prominent UU bloggers discusses thisexciting new form of public communication and its uses for evangelism, public witness, self-expression, and debate. Learn how you can get involved.

Peter Freedman Bowden
Rev. Christine Robinson
Christopher L. Walton
Suzyn Smith Webb