At our 2010 General Assembly’s opening celebration we welcomed two new member congregations. As we celebrate these two congregations (hooray, welcome and thank you!) we must also take pause and question that number.
Only two new congregations after one year? Really???
What would the doctor say?
Imagine going to the doctor’s office with your teenager. He or she is in peak puberty. Soon your teenager is weighed and height is measured. Results…
What do you think the doctor would say? What do you think the parent and teen would reaction? If you only grew 2 millimeters at what should be a peak phase of your growth you’d be alarmed.
I think that’s just about where we are as an association.
Peak puberty and only 2 millimeters growth after one year.
Growth = Health = Life
Those of use working with growth work hard to make it clear that we aren’t promoting growth for growth’s sake, but because of what growth represents — health.
All living things grow and congregations are no different. When we have healthy, dynamic and vital ministries — when we are fulfilling our purpose as communities of faith — we grow. No growth, well, somethings not quite right.
In my conversations with UU leaders, UUA staff and other consultants, one of the topics that comes up again and again is that many of our congregations are struggling with the basics. As a movement our understanding of how to “do church” is at an intro level at best.
If we’re going to grow, if we’re going to not just survive, but thrive, we need to learn how to do things differently. We’re going to need to study.
Growth requires study
The UUA resource Congregational Growth in Unitarian Universalism – New Congregation and Growth Resources (PDF) suggests that “growth should be a topic of equal interest and study” as growth and health are interconnected.
Because health and growth are related, growth should be a topic of equal interest and study. Practitioners, academics, and religious leaders are studying growth of religious communities. Good information and resources exist and are accessible to every Unitarian Universalist with an interest in learning more.
In this text, we distill and review practical findings related to healthy congregational growth.The most basic and practical understanding a religious leader must have about growth is that it is a necessary condition for the continuation of any religious community. Not to grow leads to death. A congregation that is not growing in wisdom, strength, action, or numbers is a congregation that will not last in its present state…
I couldn’t agree more!
Making Growth Knowledge Accessible
We need more study. We need to do our homework.
Yes, that’s easy to say. But as someone with a wall of church books in my office I have to say that much of the wisdom out there on congregational health and growth isn’t very accessible for the average UU. At least that’s the sense I get from those of shared resources with.
I think we need to work harder to support education in our congregations, making the vast quantities research and information on congregational life, leadership and growth accessible to our members.
That’s what this blog is about.
Connect, Learn and Grow
If you’re interested in learning about congregational development and topics related to growing our faith there are a number of ways you can connect with me and the UU Growth Blog.