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…