Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Box

OK, Count me as a slow learner.  Maybe everyone else already figured this one out.

There is an almost unresolvable contradiction in our congregation between being inclusive, welcoming and democratic on the one hand, and having a transformative mission on the other. It is almost inevitable that the direction setting power in the congregation will rest with the people who are satisfied and content with the way the congregation is right now.  

How does this change?

6 comments:

Conrad said...

So are you conflating inclusiveness, welcoming, and democratic process with acceptance of the status quo and organizational paralysis? From my viewpoint, the tension created through radical welcoming inclusiveness and shared decision making could actually be transformative itself. Compare that congregational vision with the potential for transformative mission in a congregation that is hierarchical, command and control, and excludes voices that challenge the status quo. If you had to bet which organization had the most likelihood for successful transformative mission creation, which one would you choose?

Joel Monka said...

My experience has been that the direction is set by the big pledgers.

Christine Robinson said...

How does this change?

Leadership

Tom Schade said...

Conrad, that's the model of transformation that we now use. I'm questioning it, because as it is internally focused. As it succeeds, it answers itself. UU's have been on a "hospitality' strategy for growth for several decades now, and our growth is still quite small. People do not join a church in order to make it more welcoming. Just like they don't join a church to make it more solvent.

Tom Schade said...

Christine -- always true. But when leadership is evaluated on how well the leaders include, welcome and meet the expectations of those they lead, the headwinds get pretty strong.

I am just saying that our models of leadership and church success do not promote leadership based on mission.

(Present company excepted, of course.)

Tom Schade said...

Joel. Thus it always was. Greater commitment results in greater power. But I have also seen that big givers exercise less influence than many think. They have very little veto power (and if they use it, they often lose it. After all, they can only stop pledging once.) They can't make something happen unless others are also willing to work on it.

I think that the most powerful and influential lay person in a congregation is the hard working, ordinarily-pledging, minister supporting, volunteer who is trusted to having the best interests of the congregation in mind. They have to be in the congregational mainstream of opinion. But if they show passion and commitment for a clearly articulated mission, they will move people and change the church.