Passing the Flame
In this darkest time of year it is my pleasure to pass the flame that is the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog to my good colleague Carey McDonald. I know his added breath and vision will fan the flames even brighter.
I started this blog in January 2012 as a platform for the UUA’s Growth Office. Back then Rev. Stefan Jonasson was the head of Growth Office, and the two of us were pretty much given carte blanche to think outside the box regarding UU growth.
The blog’s original mission read:
We will use this blog to share research, review resources, articulate strategies, identify good practices, present guest commentaries, and share stories from the field—all in an effort to stimulate Unitarian Universalists’ passion for sharing our faith and growing its congregations.
The first blog post explained our framework for growth, taken from Loren Mead’s book More than Numbers: the Way Churches Grow:
- Organizational Maturity
- Spiritual Vitality
- Faith in Action
- Associational (addition made by Jan Gartner)
- Numerical Indicators
It’s worth stating (over and over) again that the numerical indicators are only important in checking your perception and assumptions. It helps you see what’s really going on. Misused, numerical indicators can distract or induce shame. When congregations and Covenanting Communities focus on the other four kinds of growth, their vitality grows. What the world needs are more UU groups alive and awake in the world. Perhaps the most important blog post I ever wrote offered a tool for congregations to discern their Call in the world.
Getting up on the balcony and looking at the last four years of Growing Unitarian Universalism blog, we see some trends in writers, types of posts and topics of posts.
Over the years we invited colleagues from other UUA departments as well as leaders from the field to guest blog.
Readers craved tools, examples, and stories.
Growth and data topped the topic chart.
No more blogs about the 12th Man, Seahawks, and football. Those brought the most ire from readers.
My top 10 favorites (in no order):
- Curious Facebook Phenomena & Thanksgiving Assignment
- Holy Envy: #DunkintheDark
- Dog Poop and Congregational Adaptive Change
- Beauty and Play as a Growth Strategy
- An Innovative Learning Circle of Your Own…
- The Magic of Empty Chairs
- “What now?” What’s next?”
- On Wholeness and Worship
- Road Tip! We’re better together!
- Holy Coffee Making
I’m stepping down from Growing Unitarian Universalism for two reasons:
- This fall I joined the Pacific Western Regional staff team. I honestly don’t have time for the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog. My plate is full.
- I am also a fervent believer in leadership succession planning and not hogging the potential. Religious work is a spiritual practice. When we claim a position for too long we rob others from the experience and those the position serves of refreshed perspective.
Carey McDonald, my colleague and sibling in faith and good friend, I officially pass the flame. I know you will tend it well and guide us on our way. I am thrilled and grateful you said, “yes!”
Over 100,000,000 views of 228 posts about growing our Unitarian Universalist tradition and amplifying love and goodness in the world. I’d say that’s a good run.
Happy New Year!
Rev. Tandi Rogers now serves the UUA as the primary contact for congregations in Alaska, Washington, and Idaho as well as shepherding the emerging ministries and the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministries program throughout the Pacific Western Region. She is also adjunct faculty with Meadville Lombard Theological School, teaching Religious Education for a Changing World. Tandi’s personal blog is Putting Religious Education in Its Place.