What's Our Business?

By Joan Van Becelaere



What is our core business – as congregations; as a faith community? There is a lot riding on how we answer that question.

Remember Kodak? It was an industry giant. Many of us still call memorable events “a Kodak moment.”

Kodak went bankrupt a couple of years ago. Many analysts say that the company was killed by the rise of digital photography. Ironically, Kodak actually invented digital photography in the 1970’s. But the company’s leadership saw digital photography as something unimportant, even frivolous, rather than the wave of the future. They didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize their primary business – which they saw as film sales.

Kodak made great film and knew how to market it well. But in a digital age, no one buys film, no matter how great it is. If Kodak has defined its primary business as ‘imaging’, they might have been the leaders in the field of digital photography. But they defined their business and focused all of their resources in a way that could not keep up with technological change. And they went bankrupt.

Are our congregations and Unitarian Universalism facing our own “Kodak moment” now? In light of deep social and economic change, how do we define our core business? Where do we ocus our congregational energy – our Time, Talent and Treasure?

Are we in the building maintenance and preservation business? What do our budgets say? Or are we in the business of helping heal disconnection and creating new connections among people - no matter where that takes place?

Are we in the Sunday morning classroom business? Or are we in the business of raising children with UU values and identity, wherever and whenever they might have the opportunity to learn?

Are we in the musical production and Sunday event business? Or is our core business to change the world and build Beloved Community?

What is our real business? There is a lot riding on how we answer that question.

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere
CERG Congregational Life Staff Lead

About the Author

Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere is the Executive Director of UU Justice Ohio. She served as a Congregational Life Consultant for the Central East Region from 2007-2018. Previously, Rev. Van Becelaere was Vice President for Student Services at Iliff Theological School in Denver, CO where she also taught...

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