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Path to Congregational Membership
We've learned the importance of having clear information about the path to membership for individuals, and how newcomers start that journey. This ministry to members serves equally for prospective and new members, as well as for continuing members.
Welcome: A Unitarian Universalist Primer, is an introduction to our liberating and nourishing faith, including a brief, lucid history; commonly used readings and prayers; and inspirational quotations for newcomers and members alike. Available from InSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop.
How-to's for Deepening Church Members' Sense of Belonging
These resources have worked for others in their own congregations. They could be useful for your congregation.
- The resource Congregations Count can help a congregation to find out if it is doing a good job of retaining members.
- "The Membership Journey" (PDF, 53 pages)
- Some Disability Etiquette Tips for Greeting People at Church
- The New UU newcomers' class, helps orient new people at church to Unitarian Universalism and to your church in particular
- "Fire of Commitment" (PDF): a sermon on becoming a member of a congregation, by Rev. Fred Small
All the documents needed by a Membership Committee from InterConnections
- Small Group Ministry is a way for relatively new people, wanting to connect to more people at church, to become involved in a way that feeds their spirit. It is also a wonderful way for longer-term members of the church to stay connected.
- Harvest the Power: Developing Lay Leadership, UUA curriculum for church leaders, takes into account the difference between managing and leading, and leading in a spiritual setting.
- Thoughts on "Focusing on Member Talents & Gifts"
- Breakthrough Congregations
- See Adding Worship Services (PDF, 49 pages): A How-to Manual"
- See the Small Congregations Growth Resources List (for congregations with 150 or fewer members) or the Mid-size Congregations Growth Resources List (for congregations of over 150 to under 400 members) or the Recommended Reading for Large Congregations (for large congregations of 550+ members, or larger mid-size, with 400+ members).
When people leave our churches it is not always apparent immediately. Some leave because they move away, some die, and some stop attending. The reasons people stop attending can be many. Some people have a change in life circumstances that causes them to stop attending, while others leave due to difficulties they have had at church.
Exit interviews (Word) (PDF) conducted by thoughtful membership committee members can help a congregation to find out if it has work to do in retaining members who otherwise might have stayed. These can be conducted by letter, by phone, by email, or in person, using, or adapting, the series of questions in this exit interview text. An introductory note about the interview, such as the one shown in this resource is a courtesy. Doing exit interviews can help your church to learn more about how involved its members and friends feel.
Combining exit interviews and Congregations Count (please see above) could be highly effective at identifying next steps for member retention and improved ministry to existing members.
Gifts for Newcomers, and New and Continuing Members
Additionally, InSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop offers a number of useful resources:
- Welcome: A Unitarian Universalist Primer
- New Member Gift Set
- Hospitality Sampler
- Visitors’ Pamphlet Assortment
- Religious Education Pamphlet Assortment
- Articulating Your UU Faith
- A Chosen Faith
- The Complete Guide to Small Group Ministry
These resources can help your congregation welcome guests, include them more fully in the life of the congregation, and find an accessible path to membership and leadership. At heart, these resources are about deepening and sharing our faith.
After reviewing these hospitality materials, please visit the marketing resources web pages. Marketing outreach and hospitality go hand-in-hand. Advertising can help bring folks to our congregational doors. It is the welcome extended to our guests from that point on that will determine whether they call Unitarian Universalism home.