A version of this question has reached my inbox no less than 5 times in the last month. Something is in the air…

So, East Cupcake UU is at the point of asking, “What now?” and “What’s next?” We want to ask questions of the congregation the answers to which will reveal:

our identity

our vision

Got any ideas? Or resources? This isn’t a “create a mission and vision statement.” It is really about identity and passions.


chaliceThese are questions I use for both myself and for group work when wrestling with purpose, identity and vision…


1  Why are we here? (Starting with the whole congregation — what is the purpose of East Cupcake UU? If working with a specific group go even deeper: What is the purpose of <the specific team/ task force/ committee> within the context of the bigger purpose?)


2  Where have we been? (What has the past ministry <or program/ curriculum> looked like? Produced/impact? What were the successes and how did you know you succeeded?)


3  Where are we now? (Where is the joy — where do people show up? When and where do people feel most Unitarian Universalist?)


4  Where do we want to get to? (What has changed culturally over time? What do our people need to be vibrant, healthy Unitarian Universalists in the 21st century — both as individuals and as stewards of our faith tradition? What abilities, knowledge skills, cultural competencies, experiences?)


5  How shall we get there? (What learning and development actions do we need to undertake? What resources will we need to do perform them? How shall we overcome obstacles and to resistance to change?)


6  How will we know if we have arrived? (How do I measure achievement of goals? How will we know when we’ve made the desired impact? How will we celebrate?)


Two Harvard academics, Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson, suggests that “enduring success” has four categories:

    • Achievement – accomplishments;
    • Happiness – feelings of pleasure or contentment about life;
    • Significance – a positive impact on people you care about;
    • Legacy – establishing your values or accomplishments in ways that help others find future success.

7  What’s holding us back? (What’s stopping us from doing what we want/need to do? What do we need to let go of?)


8  Who can help us? (Who can teach/mentor/ partner with us? From whom can I learn?)


And if your group is a heady bunch, have them do an art project with these questions.  (Of course, you knew I’d take it there.) For instance…


Light a chalice

We light this chalice with deep respect for the mystery and holiness of life.

With honor and gratitude for those who have gone before

With love and compassion for those who dwell among us.

And with hope and faith for the generation to come.

~ Rev. Ken Jones


Big Questions. Go through the questions together and with someone keeping notes on big paper hanging in the room.

Candle Reflection Creations. Then process individually by making reflection candles. Spread out glass pillar candles (Catholic stores care them) (one for each person plus another to keep blank to symbolize the people yet to come), a bunch of paper and art supplies and magazines (to cut out pictures.) and then invite people to find a representation for each question and what it brings up for them. These then get glued onto the candle in a way that makes sense to the individual.

Sharing. Next share candles in small groups of 2-3s.

More Sharing. Come together for an all-share — what came up?  What do we need to add, change, subtract from the big paper?

Adding the Flame. One person lights their candle (use a long taper candle) from the chalice, and then passes the flame to the next person. Hold hands and take a deep breath. Admire the beauty and the collective whole that holds and sustains us.


Take courage friends.

The way is often hard, the path is never clear,

and the stakes are very high.

Take courage.

For deep down, there is another truth:

you are not alone.

~ Rev. Wayne B. Arnason


Tandi Feb 2012

When in doubt Rev. Tandi Rogers goes to the questions, the community and the art supplies.

About the Author
Tandi Rogers


  1. Kimberly Eddins

    Hi, Tandi! I am impressed with your practical knowledge and advice. Thank you so very much for sharing. I have just assumed the mantel of marketing for our “tiny” UU church in Florida. There is so much information on growth and activities, etc. that the task of creating a growth platform is becoming daunting. I would appreciate any advice or outline of how to begin at the beginning, and then keep going.


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