Main Content
UU Ministers Discuss Growth: A Video Series
Listening to Experience: UU Ministers Discuss Growth

The Rev. Alice Mann of the Alban Institute was invited by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Growth Team to facilitate a conversation involving twelve ministers from some of the fastest growing Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations in the country.  These are congregations of all sizes, from newly emerging to large churches.  Here are the questions we asked:

  1. What draws people to the congregation you serve?
  2. What is your role as a minister in growing the congregation you serve?
  3. How does your congregation help people move inward and outward on their spiritual journey?
  4. What needs to be in place, organizationally, institutionally and practically, for a congregation to grow?
  5. Within your congregation, what are obstacles or hindrances to growth, and what has helped?
  6. What in the larger UU system helps and hinders congregational growth?

For nearly three days they shared their success stories and offered insights into how their congregations have grown in spirituality, in membership, and in mission.

  • Use the questions and ideas presented here to have a discussion within your own congregation. 
  • Begin by viewing "Introduction" which will give an overview of the content.
  • Before watching the other segments, consider the question in that segment and the discuss your own responses before watch the segment(s) devoted to that question.  Consider how your reflections compare to those of the twelve participating ministers.
  • Don't try to watch all of the videos in one sitting.  Take it a piece at a time.  Like a good book, reading a chapter at a time enhances it's value.  In this way, you can both explore these questions yourselves and gain insights from the experiences of these congregations.

INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

WHY DO THEY COME? (PART ONE)

WHY DO THEY COME? (PART ONE)

What draws people to the congregations you serve?

WHY DO THEY COME? (PART TWO)

WHY DO THEY COME? (PART TWO)

What draws people to the congregations you serve?

YOUR ROLE AS MINISTER (PART ONE)

YOUR ROLE AS MINISTER (PART ONE)

What is your role as minister in growing the congregation you serve?

YOUR ROLE AS MINISTER (PART TWO)

YOUR ROLE AS MINISTER (PART TWO)

What is your role as minister in growing the congregation you serve?

HELPS & HINDRANCES (PART ONE)

HELPS & HINDRANCES (PART ONE)

Within your congregation, what are obstacles or hindrances to growth, and what has helped? What in the larger Unitarian Universalist system helps and hinders congregational growth?

HELPS & HINDRANCES (PART TWO)

HELPS & HINDRANCES (PART TWO)

Within your congregation, what are obstacles or hindrances to growth, and what has helped? What in the larger Unitarian Universalist system helps and hinders congregational growth?

INWARD & OUTWARD JOURNEY

INWARD & OUTWARD JOURNEY

How does your congregation help people move inward and outward on their spiritual journey?

WHAT'S NEEDED FOR CHANGE

WHAT'S NEEDED FOR CHANGE

What institutional, organizational and practical nuts & bolts need to exist for a congregation to grow?

About the Authors

  • Alice Mann is a leading consultant, educator, and author in the field of congregational development, with emphasis on strategic planning, breaking through size plateaus, creating new pathways for small and struggling churches, and helping congregations to discern and care for the “soul” of their...
  • The Rev. Ken Beldon is minister of WellSprings Congregation in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, and editor of Wrestling with Adulthood: Unitarian Universalist Men Talk About Growing Up (Skinner House, 2008).
  • The Rev. Thom Belote, minister of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, edited The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality (Skinner House, 2010). He blogs at RevThom . Thom Belote's blog
  • The Rev. Kendra Ford is minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Exeter, New Hampshire.
  • Robert Hardies is senior minister of All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC.
  • The Rev. Peter Morales was the eighth president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). He was elected in June 2013 to a second four-year term and resigned in March 2017. Prior to his election, Morales served as the senior minister at Jefferson Unitarian Church in...
  • The Rev. Christine Robinson is formerly the senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She now works with the Pacific Western Region as a Congregational Life Primary Contact for Large Congregations. She writes the blog "iMinister." Robinson delivered...
  • The Rev. Victoria Safford is minister of the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. She is the author of Walking Toward Morning: Meditations (Skinner House, 2003) and a contributor to The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's...
  • The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Schuler is parish minister of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin, and the author of Making the Good Life Last: Four Keys to Sustainable Living .
  • The Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell is minister emerita of the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon, where she served for 17 years before her retirement in 2009. She is the editor of four Beacon Press anthologies, including the award-winning Cries of the Spirit . She is...
  • The Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay is minister of First Unitarian Church of Providence, R.I. Raised Unitarian Universalist in Newton, Mass., she earned an M.Div. and a Th.M. from Harvard Divinity School. Her studies focused on the archaeology, texts, and history of ancient Greek...

Like, Share, Print, or Explore

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.