Imaginary Death Valley UU Reality Check Map

Worry and Relevancy – Are we the next Christian Science Reading Rooms?


David concludes his comment saying “I worry we are fast on our way to becoming as irrelevant as the old Christian Science reading rooms.”

Thank you for your comment David.  I’m having this conversation more and more these days.  This blog is doing a great job of connecting me with other… let’s call them “growth leaders.”  I use that term as I believe we do need leadership to grow and the people talking about it are the prime candidates for leading the way.  Thanks to the congregational and district leaders who have reached out and especially, the field staff who have scheduled calls/coffee dates to talk growth.

As for worry and relevancy…

I’m not so much worried as excited.  Excited because I know we have purpose. I know we are relevant.  And I know more and more UUs are starting to worry about our not realizing this potential.  And that’s  do think the urgency is building and when more UUs feel the threat of extinction, then they we’ll see adaptation, innovation and excellence.  Until its critical, I suspect the culture, tradition, dysfunction, apathy and/or bad habits that keep congregations from learning and moving forward will prevail.  It always amazed me that despite changes in leadership, membership and ministers, dysfunctional patterns persist in the system.

A question I’ve been thinking about is “How do we intentionally as leaders increase the urgency and make a lack of action more uncomfortable than taking action?”

As I’ve been gearing up for growth work in the Ballou Channing District I’ve made a google map of the district’s congregations.  As I was reviewing the congregations and adding them to the map I discovered quite a few ancient old-school websites. You know the ones I mean.  If it was a chair you’d be scared to sit in it…  Anyhow, you can select what kind of icon you use for each map point.  I *so* wanted to flag congregations with “old chair” websites, giving them ALERT/DANGER icons…

Imagine if there was a UU REALITY CHECK google map.  On it there would be…

  • Every existing congregation
  • Every emerging congregation
  • Growing congregations w/population changes taken into account get a jazzy UUA growth award icon
  • Congregations at a plateau w/population changes taken into account get a medical attention required icon.
  • Membership decreasing w/population changes taken into account get a dying or emergency alert icon.
  • Maybe even list UU house churches and small group networks not tied to brick and mortar congregations. We could have lots of these if we wanted to and gave people “permission” to meet as non-congregationally based UUs.

That’s it…  Just a map.  Just a reality check on growth.  Think that would do anything?  I opted not to give any of our congregations caution or “your dying” icons on my district google map.  It’s not my job to rate or judge.   Or is it???

For fun — and since I’m fighting the LREDA bug and not doing other work today — here’s an imaginary Death Valley UU Reality Check Map…

Imaginary Death Valley UU Reality Check Map
Imaginary Death Valley UU Reality Check Map

3 thoughts on “Worry and Relevancy – Are we the next Christian Science Reading Rooms?”

  1. Your question, “How do we intentionally as leaders increase the urgency and make a lack of action more uncomfortable than taking action?” is one the answer of which completely alludes me.

    For example, I have been trying to make the case on my own blog and in other venues that we as UU’s should embrace pacifism, saying “no” to war.

    (see: http://mypropheticimperative.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-cant-we-just-say-no-to-war.html, http://mypropheticimperative.blogspot.com/2009/10/foolish-naive.html, and http://mypropheticimperative.blogspot.com/2009/10/foolish-naive.html).

    In each essay, I ask the question, “When will we, Unitarian Universalists, finally…turn away from the false premises of just war and the monstrous arrogance of those who say we (the United States) have a singular mission in the world? When will we truly embrace our principles and just say ‘no’ to war?”

    I think this is the kind of question with which we (UU’s) need to grapple, especially in light of the death and destruction we as a people have wrought in the last decade. And yet, a Unitarian Universalist minister recently told me that UU’s agree war is a bad thing, we just can’t agree on whether it is ever justified. I got the impression that he thought it was enough that we agreed on war’s “badness” and that the disagreement on its justice was something we will just have to live with.

    But isn’t the question of war’s justice the fundamental question – one which a religious community that values the interdependent web of all existence should confront? If we accept that some wars can be just, isn’t it is easy to take the next step and conclude that they are sometimes necessary and inevitable and that we would simply be wasting our time to try to end the conditions that make it so easy for us to wage war.

    If, despite our principles, we are content to live with war’s inevitability rather than collectively embrace the cause of ending it; if we are content simply to do nothing, to take no collective action; then we don’t deserve to grow. Instead, we should stand aside and make room for a religious community that is truly willing to live by and act on its core values and principles.

  2. I normally don’t point out typos, but this one had me confused for a while:

    We could have lost of these if we wanted to and gave people “permission” to meet as non-congregationally based UUs.

    That’s supposed to be lots, isn’t it?

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