52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation

Growing a congregation is a matter of mastering the basics––are the bathrooms clean, are guests welcomed, is worship inclusive of people who are not insiders? But sometimes we forget the basics, and that’s why an occasional reminder is a good thing.

The Rev. Randy Hammer, pastor of United Church, Chapel on the Hill in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School, has written a book of such reminders. The book, 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Practical Hospitality, devotes one page to each of Hammer’s 52 ways of making sure guests are welcomed. They include advice on holding special programs, providing guest parking, creating an attractive roadside sign, providing quality child care, and sprucing up bulletin boards.

The book can serve as a reminder of what we already know we’re supposed to do, and it can inspire us to actually do it. It is also useful as a checklist of items to think about as we review just how welcoming we are.

Hammer is also the author of Everyone a Butterfly: Forty Sermons for Children. Both books are available from the UUA Bookstore.

First Unitarian, Albuquerque, continues to branch out

First Unitarian in Albuquerque, N.Mex., which has two branch congregations 30 to 70 miles away, has been approached by a third group of people, 300 miles away in Carlsbad. Discussions have begun to determine if it too might become affiliated with First Unitarian. “This will give us an opportunity to see how well a church can ‘adopt’ a branch at a long distance,” says the Rev. Christine Robinson. She also reports an increasing numbers of inquiries about branches from across the country. Find a description of Albuquerque’s branch ministry on its website.