Great questions

Already some great questions coming in through comments.  Thanks Julian and Tom.

Do most UUs place substantial value on growth?
Are UUs as a whole happy to be small, homogeneous, “elite” community?

Regarding demographics, what was going on in the late sixties that led to a modest spike in UU membership and RE enrollment? Why the long term equilibrium since?

Tom writes “So, if we truly want to grow, what do we do? I suspect we need to upset this equilibrium. How do we do that? Well, I think this is a question that operations research analysts such as myself can’t answer. It is a question that growth consultants like Peter Bowden can’t answer. I think it is a question that our clergy, led by our new President, Rev. Peter Morales, must help us answer. As seekers, we come to this church looking for answers. We cannot find them alone. Yes, we can look to our hearts and to other UU’s but I think it is our clergy who need to take the lead in helping us, together, find the answers.”

I agree that we can’t find the answers alone.  And I certainly agree that I’m not going to wave a magic wand and solve our issues. Heck, I don’t have the traditional facial hair required to be an effective UU authority figure, and haven’t been issued a wand yet. 😉

Push Me Pull You from Dr. Doolittle
Push Me Pull You from Dr. Doolittle

I will say based on my 20+ years as a lay leader and periodic UUA staff member that we have a push-me-pull-you problem.  We need lay leaders to lead AND for our  clergy to lead AND for them to be going in the same direction. Oh, I know I ask a lot… Perhaps we can sort it out together.

TODAY: I’m working on a DVD for a video display at LREDA.  I’ll be there Friday evening and Saturday. If you are attending and want to connect feel free to call my cell (sidebar).

THEN: I want to respond to Julian’s question about Youth & Young Adult ministries.

2 thoughts on “Great questions

  1. Peter,

    Thanks for your reply to my comment in this new post. I agree with your statement that, “we need lay leaders to lead AND for our clergy to lead AND for them to be going in the same direction.”

    I guess the point I was trying to make in my comment to your previous post is that I believe this growth issue is a theological one, not one grounded in the mechanics of organizational growth and development.

    People such as John Kotter (himself a UU as well as a visioning and strategic planning guru at Harvard Business School) might say that a healthy, growing organization is one which has developed and embraced a plausible and meaningful vision of itself and has then developed and implemented a useful strategic plan founded on that vision.

    If true then, in the case of a church, shouldn’t its vision be grounded in its faith, its theology, its values, its religion? In order to even begin to develop such a vision, don’t we need consensus on faith, theology, values, and religion?

    Yes, in the context of shared ministry, lay leaders have a role in this process but I think it must be the clergy who take the leading, guiding role in any effort to re-envision ourselves – something I believe is necessary if we are to grow beyond what and where we are today. Who better? They have the education and professional experience that I certainly lack. We already know how hard-working, capable, and dedicated they are.

    I think I’ve said enough (my last post, promise!) except to say, as I know you are aware, that we have a lot of dedicated, passionate lay leaders – I was one of them at one time. They / we need visionary leaders to help us help our church thrive and grow.

    Thanks for your compassionate response and for allowing me the opportunity to provide feedback.

  2. Tom, you are welcome to comment as much as you like. I want this blog to host a longer term conversation, not be a flash in the pan.

    I agree with you 100% that growth is a theological issue (I’ve been calling it a moral issue). But there must be “mechanics of organizational growth and development” and training to support it.

    In my guest preaching on the topic I’ve had people admit they want to grow, want to reach out to people in coffee hour and be hospitable, but just don’t know how to do that. Don’t know what to say. That isn’t the whole of the problem, but it is part. And we can teach that.

    Let’s do it all.

    And Tom, thank you for your passionate service over the years. May our ongoing growth discussion, theological reflection, and inspired action offer the support passionate UU leaders across the UUA are looking for.

    I hope you’ll stick around, maybe slip into passionate leader mode from time to time 😉

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