Membership in Unitarian Universalist Congregations
Each week, congregations contact the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) on matters concerning membership in congregations. Unitarian Universalists (UUs) ask about greeters, printed matter, publicity, newcomer classes, membership requirements, making first-time visitors feel welcome, helping newcomers decide to join, involving new members in the life of the congregation, and keeping longer-term members active.
Here are some resources that I often suggest people look at, and adapt from, for their own congregation. Please contact me at growthresources [at] uua [dot] org if you would like to discuss these or if you would like to know more.
Guides and Tools
- Membership Professionals Resources (UUAMP)
By and for membership professionals in UU congregations. Membership committee volunteers and chairs may also find these resources useful. Find job descriptions, welcoming and member retention resources, greeter training information, and links to other membership web content.
- The Membership Journey (PDF, 53 pages)
A guide to various aspects of membership growth and for enriching the lives of all members for all sizes and ages of congregations. This guide also suggests approaches to moving toward being an anti-racist/ anti-oppressive/ multicultural congregation.
- Congregations Count: Evaluating Your Membership Process (includes PDF, Excel, and MP3 tools)
Used with The Membership Journey, above, Congregations Count is an easy-to-use diagnostic tool to help your congregation effectively focus your membership efforts toward congregational growth. Congregations Count helps your congregation diagnose whether you need more visitors, a better process to convert visitors to members, or a program to retain existing members.
- The New UU program provides important tools to help Unitarian Universalist congregations welcome, orient, and integrate newcomers into their faith communities.
- Building the World We Dream About is a curriculum for exploring racial and cultural differences in our communities and congregations, and to learn ways of being more open, understanding, and accepting of our differences. This is an important task as part of living our first Principle.
- Harvest the Power: Developing Lay Leadership
A UUA curriculum for church leaders. When lay leaders deepen their understanding of the difference their work makes in the world, their ministry shifts, and with this shift the congregation can become more engaged, attractive, and energetic.
- UUA New Media Project
How-to's on use of new media for social networking by congregations, to connect people to one another and to the congregation as an organization.
Philosophy and Expectations
- Belonging (PDF, 166 pages): the Meaning of Membership
A Commission on Appraisal report of the findings on this topic.
- Your Congregation's Bylaws: a Guide to Effective Writing and Revising
Has a section on membership which deals with rights and expectations of members. It also covers what aspects might be covered in congregational bylaws.
- Religious Hospitality: A Spiritual Practice for Congregations, by Peter Morales
A pamphlet for congregational leaders, members and friends about the spiritual practice of offering hospitality from deep within ourselves.
The UUA bookstore has many other useful pamphlets for describing our UU movement to newcomers.
- Memb-L: The UUA's membership and growth email list. The list covers a range of UU congregations' membership topics and best practices.
- Memb-Pros: The email discussion list for paid membership professionals in UU congregations.
- See instructions for joining the email lists in our subscriber guide.
Check with the UUA Bookstore for these and more.
- Beyond the First Visit: the Complete Guide to Connecting Guests to Your Church, by Gary L. McIntosh.
"Does your church put out the 'welcome' mat or the 'do not disturb' sign?" asks Beyond the First Visit. This book gives an important look at your church through the eyes of a first-time guest.
- Widening the Welcome of Your Church: Biblical Hospitality & the Vital Congregation, by Fred Bernhard and Steve Clapp.
This book discusses compelling welcoming issues from being a caring host, to welcoming children, youth, and young adults, to considering physical facilities and worship, while offering useful checklists to aid us in widening our welcome to all.
- Radical Hospitality: Benedict's way of Love, by Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt.
This has become a classic text for exploring what it means to be truly welcoming to others, both at church and in all of life. Also see the Companion Guide to Radical Hospitality.
- Churchworks: A Well-Body Book for Congregations, by Anne Heller.
- Created and Called: Discovering Our Gifts for Abundant Living, by Jean Trumbauer.
- Letting Go: Transforming Congregations for Ministry, by Roy Phillips.