Sunday, March 29, 2015

Alternative Growth Strategy Summary

The strategy of "building religious community" was based on the observation that there is a hunger for community, and it UU churches and congregation built a truly welcoming community, people would want to join it.

While it may be true that there is a deep hunger for community, the invitation to join UU communities has not been compelling enough to get a large response. So we have accepted slow and small growth as the best we can do.

Why shouldn't 1% of the US population be involved in some way with UU Congregations?

We need to be making a different invitation to people. Understand that the invitation we make to people is not the same as our overall mission. Reiterating that our overall mission is help people develop spiritual depth and make the world a better place is not the same as a specific invitation to a particular group of people to do something together.

As a way to think about this, I would recommend the following:

(1) Look at your mission statement and strip out of it all talk of being "a community" that
t has certain characteristics or does certain good things.

(2) Think about your congregation and name one or more things that it, or some of it, does well. Does it have a great Faith Development program? Is there a group that shows up for racial justice? Do you worship well? Is your Green group active and vibrant?

(3) Think about those successful ministries. Are they succeeding because they point to unmet needs in the larger community? Are there people out in the community who need them?

(4) Redefine your mission statement as an invitation to the people in your community who want or need to be involved in such ministries. The point is to cut through the clutter and noise of the contemporary culture, you must send a specific invitation. A general statement about who you are will not do. All of the alternatives in this series involve defining the church's ministry more specifically, so that people in the community who share those specific concerns, will want to get involved in the work.

(5) This is the hard part: organize your congregation's programming to make that invitation and to meet the expectations of the people who will respond to it. All your programming: your worship, your children's Faith Development, your adult programming, your youth and young adult programming, your music.  Place Unitarian Universalism as a faith tradition in the context of the invitation you are making.

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A Growth Strategy aims at inviting people in the surrounding community (the largest lavender circle above) into the the congregation's network (the blue circle).  

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