There are not enough people sufficiently motivated to give the time and money needed to sustain our liberal religious institutions, as we now think of them. Stuck in survival mode, we cannot gather the capacity to grow. The evidence is the declining pledge levels in many congregations.
Our cause is too small and too safe to ignite sufficient passionate engagement, the kind of commitment that we need. On the one hand, our cause is too big: all things to all people. And on the other hand, it is too small: this particular little organization in your town, this building, this minister, these people in all their particular ways.
To put in terms of our survival, the only thing that can make the difference is the passionate engagement of more people.
We have to look beyond the people who are presently passionate about Unitarian Universalism. There is a much larger group of people we would reach IF they could see that we would directly connect them to the transformation that they are anxious to see in the world.
It means that our congregations must be more clearly purposeful. I recently wrote a series of posts on alternative growth strategies to the present "community building" strategy. Each proposal I floated was a variation on the theme of creating more purposeful congregations.
A lot of the recent conference of ministers in the MidAmerica Region (a name that sounds like a chain of tire stores) focused on multisite ministry and new start ministry. Those methods do not address the question of purpose. Multisite, especially, is a vision of stretching our resources by eliminating duplicate expenditures. It makes us more efficient; it doesn't help us grow.
Can we imagine a multi-site church which contains satellites with very different purposes and appeals? A parent church where one satellite is a young adult oriented new start? One satellite is an Earth Church? One satellite is a Co-Op Children's Church? One satellite is an activist church? One a missional project in a particular neighborhood? All robust network connecting them? A single back office, performing all the financial and database functions