Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Response from Morales Campaign

This question had been asked in comments:

What else has (Morales) got to offer towards significant growth of UUism?

I received this answer from the Morales campaign:

The idea of a satellite congregation is just one idea for growth. The real potential in our movement is in the 1000 congregations we already have.

The fact that dozens of congregations have grown rapidly in the last decade shows that fast growth is possible in a number of settings (urban, suburban, small town). The fact is that we get around 250,000 visitors each year. Most never return. The key to fast growth in our thriving churches is that they do a better job of engaging the seekers and of holding on to the members they already have.

There is no reason we could not realize growth of 50 percent in a decade. Many churches do that. Several of our districts have come close to that growth rate.

A number of effective growth ideas are presented in the DVD "Ideas for Growth" produced by Jefferson Unitarian Church. In it the Rev. Morales and members of his staff show ideas that have helped that church grow from 400 to 780 in 9 years.

1 comment:

Chalicechick said...

Over and over again, I've seen the churches I've been in subtly sabatoge their own growth.

Church members want to grow the church, and the denomination, in theory, but the idea of their own church getting too big and becoming impersonal is scary.

And yeah, big churches are more impersonal. It's kinda the nature of the beast. I didn't really feel like I had a place in my church or friends there until I started teaching YRUU. The YRUU leaders are our own little club within the church* and I fit in there. And through meeting my YRUU buddies' friends and doing other activities in the church that put me in other "clubs", leading a lay service and running the fellowship dinner, I know a healthy percentage of my church after four years. **

That said, nothing makes me feel like an outsider quicker than Joys and Concerns. Even after four years and all that contact with my fellow congregants, I still only recognize maybe a third to half the names that come up. (Mostly because A LOT of EVERY church's Joys and Concerns is about old people in the hospital who might not have been very active over the last several years. In the Presby church I grew up in, every week we were instructed to pray for a list of people who were in the hospital. Dutiful kid that I was, I prayed once a week for ten years for some people that I never met. I can still remember some of the names.)

Anyway, even if you are connected and have friends, it's still not like being in a little church. IMHO, the biggest growth struggle many churches have is getting people to accept that the small-church-to-big-church changes are OK.

My impression is that the Mormons in particular are awesome at this because they don't have ministers so they can keep their weekly meetings very small and just make more meetings as they grow. And grow. And grow. Furthermore, they have lots of activities that bring people from different meetings together since Mormons tend to live their social lives through the church.

My impression is that megachurches do a lot to make church a big part of your social life as well, so that even if you go to a big church, you still have tons of friends there.

Those examples notwithstanding, I think just about every church struggles with this because we no longer live in a world where church is particularly central to your social life.


*much like the Green sanctuary committee, the mindful knitters, the group that takes bible study classes, the dudes on the building committee, portions of the choir, the young mommies of ten year olds, the young mommies of five year olds etc, etc and soforth.

** is it a good thing or bad thing that when my husband was in his accident, I didn't want the pastoral care team to make me chickens and tell me things would be OK, I wanted my YRUU leader buddies to do it? I could argue that one either way. But I suspect that's common in big churches where the Pastoral care team may be people you know of but don't really know.