How NOT to Grow a Congregation

Yes, this is brought to you by April Fool’s Day. While some of  these may sound far-fetched, the not-so-funny reality is that these are actual quotes overheard and reported to me by District Staffers.  Please note that the congregations where these quotes took place are not growing (in most definitions of the word.) If you suspect some of these citations may have been overheard in your congregation, please contact your District Staff for an intervention. They’re here for you. (more…)

Does Liberal Religion Have a Future?

“At the beginning of the new millennium three qualities mark the world’s spiritual profile,” writes Harvey Cox in his latest book, The Future of Faith.  “The first is the unanticipated resurgence of religion in both public and private life around the globe.  The second is that fundamentalism, the bane of the twentieth century, is dying.  But the third and most important, though often unnoticed, is a profound change in the elemental nature of religiousness.”

Harvey Cox believes that we are at the beginning of what he calls the “Age of the Spirit.”  I’m not sure that this is the right name, or even that Cox is reading the signs of the times correctly, but if Unitarian Universalism is to survive and prosper, we will need to read the spirit of the age and respond accordingly. (more…)

Ain’t Misbehaving. Saving My Love For You.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m adapting one of my most requested articles just for you… It’s about love.

Some of you may know that I conducted a survey of Free Range UUs a couple months back, and I will be reporting on that in depth here later.  But one thing that stunned me was the number of Free Rangers who have been to our congregations and left, repelled by less than inspiring worship or an exhausting congregational conflict or our issues with power and authority. A significant portion of Free Rangers are former board members who left demoralized under the unrealistic pressures of their role.  A target for all sorts of ugliness.  This keeps me up at night. It makes my heart ache. (more…)

Harvesting Ideas: just stop

Do! Do! Do! …Wait. What if you stopped some of the output? Stopped a pattern? Stopped a habit? Stopped an expectation…

What three things, if you stopped doing them, would actually contribute to the growth of your congregation?

Please share below!  We want to hear from you…

P.S. We give you permission to strategically disappoint people in order to more fully serve your purpose and mission.

Growing Beyond Numbers

I like frameworks to help me hang ideas on and organize my thinking. For years I’ve used the growth categories from Ted Buckle and popularized by Loren Mead in his book More Than Numbers: the Way Churches Grow (the words are changed a bit.)  At the suggestion of Jan Gartner (Professional Development Associate for Religious Education and Music Leaders), I’ve added Associational Growth. We will use these categories to organize this blog.  Each blog entry will speak to at least one kind of growth.  Rather than definitions, I’ll introduce the categories with some questions.  I invite you suggest some of your own questions for these categories in the comment section.  What else would you add?

Organizational Maturity

  • What is your congregation’s purpose for existence? How do you know? How is your purpose expressed?
  • How does your governance and organizational structures fit your size and serve your purpose? How do you understand governance and organization to be different?
  • How are your policies community-owned and responsive to your purpose and the people you want to be?
  • How does your building or meeting space serve your mission (rather than be your mission)?
  • What is your pathway to leadership and service? How is this communicated?