It’s not your parents’ church anymore, that’s for sure.
You may have heard that Unitarian Universalist religious expression will take different forms in the 21st century than it has in the past. Here are some things we know:
- The way we have been ‘doing’ congregational life is modeled on a church structure from the 1950s and 1960s that relied on a standard cultural understanding of the importance of church and on women being largely out of the paid workforce and available to help run them.
- More and more of our new members have no formal religious background. (It used to be that our new members grew up in some sort of religious organization, and left it.) This means that they are less familiar with the purpose, cost, and workings of congregations.
- Fewer people of all ages are active in religious communities.
- However, the pull towards finding meaning from one’s life and making a difference in the world is a strong as ever. This means that new forms of religious expression are coming into the world in unique, never before seen ways.
What does this mean for your congregation?
Maybe the way you’re currently ‘doing’ church is getting harder and more stressful. Money is tight and members and volunteers are fewer. This may be entirely because the religious winds are shifting. Church won’t be the same in the future – how will your church look in its next chapter? Now is a perfect opportunity to pause, reconsider what really matters to you, and reorient your congregation towards that work.
How Church's Role in Society is Changing
- Did You Know 3.0 (YouTube, 4.26)—Shift Happens
- The Church and the Grocery Store (YouTube, 2:09)
- Shifts You Should Know About by Sarai Rice (Alban Institute)
- The Strange Disappearance of Civic America by Robert Putnam (author of Bowling Alone)
- What If the Kids Don't Want Our Church? by Derek Panwell
- The Death of Sunday School and the Future of Faith Formation by Kimberly Sweeney
Ways to Respond Adaptively
- The Triple-Soy Decaf-Latte Era: How Business and Organization are Fundamentally Transforming by Alpesh M. Bhatt and Nick Wedge
- The Church as Wikipedia by Landon Whittsitt (chapter 2 of his book Open Source Church)
- I Don't Want To Go Back To Church and Why I Will by Mark Sandlin on what the Spiritual but Not Religious have to teach the church
- What Are We Paying You For? Shifting the Way We Ask Lay Leaders to Run the Church by Ryn Nasser
New Models for Faith Communities
Maybe you’ve got a burning desire to worship or work in a way that you’ve never seen done before, and you wonder if it’s okay or valued or reasonable to consider being part of Unitarian Universalism. In short, yes it is! We need your creative ideas to usher in the next generation of our faith. Check out the option to become a Covenanting Community with the UUA.
Check out some of these other ways that Unitarian Universalism is growing and changing!