Growth Strategies office creates blog

The UUA Office of Growth Strategies has created a blog, Growing Unitarian Universalism, which it will use to share ideas and strategies for growing congregations. The blog will share research, resources, articulate strategies, identify good practices, present guest commentaries, and invite comments from congregational leaders.

The office was established in 2011 “to help restore the Unitarian Universalist Association to a position of active evangelism,” writes the Rev. Stefan Jonasson, director of the office. He notes that he and Tandi Rogers, growth strategies specialist and a credentialed religious educator, have surveyed UUA growth initiatives past and present, identified resources from inside and outside the UUA, and  consulted with individuals and groups “who care about the health and vitality of Unitarian Universalism.”

One early conclusion: “Along the way, we’ve discerned that the best programs and initiatives seem to have a ‘shelf life,’ after which they need to be retired since they begin to produce diminishing returns, however effective they may have been at their peak,” says Jonasson. “We’ve realized that our institutions reward caution much more than responsible risk-taking. We’ve seen how technology is outpacing our imagination for its effective use.”

He adds that the Office of Growth Strategies can’t single-handedly increase the number of UUs, nor is it focused simply on numerical growth. Rather, growth is the work of all UUs and it includes changing hearts and transforming lives, in addition to increasing numbers of UUs. “Our office’s role is to inform, equip, and inspire Unitarian Universalists in this work,” he says.


Signs of living and dying congregations

The blog of the UUA’s Congregational Stewardship staff group is currently highlighting “Signs of living (and dying) churches.” A sample:

Living churches always have a parking problem; dying churches don’t. Living churches are constantly changing their methods; dying churches don’t have to. Living churches have lots of noisy kids; dying churches are quiet. Living churches grow so fast you forget people’s names; in dying churches you’ve known everyone’s names for years.

Also up on the stewardship blog: an article titled “All we ever do is talk about raising money!” about how to manage small fundraisers that can proliferate in the life of a congregation, one on “Stewardship as Spiritual Discipline,” and another on “The 12 myths of fundraising.”