7 Principles of Vital UU Congregations

The Rev. Thom Belote has posted a document/article generated at the UUA’s recent Growth Consultation titled “7 Principles of Vital UU Congregations.”   For a background and a list of other posts by Belote on this consultation click here.

The following are the seven principles identified by the ministers and UUA staff participating in the consultion . See the original post for Belote’s commentary on the list.

The Seven Principles for UU Congregational Vitality

1) The Congregation has a clear and powerful Purpose and Mission
• The congregation possesses a compelling narrative that connects past, present, and future.
• The congregation’s story is constantly embodied and rehearsed.

2) The Congregation is aware of & responsive to the world around it
• Another way of saying this is to say that the congregation has a “sense of place” that is theologically informed.
• The public mission is owned and embodied by the congregation.
• There is strong leadership and high levels of participation in living out the public mission. [It is not just the minister doing it or a committee or a group of people who are marginal in the life of the congregation.]

3) There is vital worship and a vital Sunday experience for all ages
• “It’s gotta sing”: vitality and energy are felt throughout the congregation on Sundays.
• There is coherence in the church’s programming. Sunday morning is an aesthetic whole.
• The worship service is relevant and meaningful in people’s lives.
• Music inspires and moves the congregation.

4) Church is done well [this principle is in reference to administration and leadership.]
• This principle has to do with Policies, Practices, and Places.
• The above are clear, adaptable, and responsive to the evolving needs of the congregation.
• There is a sense that we must be willing to change ourselves in order to “do church well.”

5) The Congregation cultivates religious community
• The community participates in shared practices and rituals.
• The congregation provides connections where there is disconnection. [This is another way to describe the building of the beloved community: It encompasses multiculturalism, multigenerationalism, and other forms of diversity.]
• The congregation provides a safe atmosphere and environment where healthy relationships can be built.
• The congregation recognizes and overcomes its own idolatries in how it envisions community.

6) The Congregation builds skills to lead and nurtures gifts to serve
• People who come to a church discern a call in community.
• The community nurtures, trains, honors, and trusts leaders.

7) Strong ministerial leadership supports the fulfillment of the previous six principles.

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What do you think of this list?   I’m going to see how it compares to the other similar lists I have from various church growth books…

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