The Rev. Christine Robinson, senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.Mex., has written a number of posts on her blog, “iMinister,” about growth, multiculturalism, and social media. Among her observations:
• Growth – “When people who are ‘spiritual but not religious’ go looking for a religion, they go looking for spirituality; for heart, depth, warmth, spiritual practices, lessons in prayer, clues to a relationship to god. These things are not easy to get in UU churches. If we focused on them more, trained our ministers to provide them, helped lay people to tolerate, if not enjoy them…THEN we might attract some of this group of folks to our churches. But not before.” (April 26)
• Theology – “Theologically liberal congregations tend to be even MORE institutionally conservative than theologically conservative ones.” Robinson notes that conservative ministers can find a basis in the Bible for, as an example, starting a contemporary music service to attract young adults. “That minister might meet some resistance, but he will have the congregation’s core beliefs (taking the Gospel to all nations) on his side. A UU minister…doesn’t have the same advantage.” (April 25)
• Multiculturalism – “If we achieve our goal of multiculturalism, it will be because we have attracted young people to our church and welcomed them—their music, their visual learning style, their multiculturalism, and most of all, their desire to explicitly address their spiritual lives.” (April 20)
• Social Media – Robinson says she does not believe that the digital world will bring an end to brick and mortar churches. “What will have changed is how we attract people to church; that will be almost 100 percent digital (It is nearly that already.), and the fact that we will have the option to have online groups, trainings, and meetings, and that the resources we provide for spiritual development of our members (which will be the only reason people join churches in the future), will be available on our website as well as in sermons and classes. A church doing its web ministry well will reach many more people, dispersed all over the globe, than any one church ever could before.” (April 19)
(Reader comments to these blog posts can be read on Robinson’s Facebook page.)
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