Resourcing our Congregations in a New World

By Kathy McGowan

Many of our congregations are trying to figure out how to cope with fewer resources than they are used to when thinking about their upcoming programs and ministry. You are not alone. We are here to help and to walk with you on this journey.

While some congregations are used to not having much in the way of professional staff, this is a new experience for many this year. Natalie wrote about this challenging time last month in her New Year, New Challenges blog post.

Even our traditionally lay-led congregations are facing challenges in this new environment. This is why your UUA staff are creating new opportunities for you to connect with one another and share your knowledge and creativity. If you are looking for resources and ideas, please sign up for our newly created Essentials for Lay-led Congregations.

This is a time for us to get creative and to really lean into the old phrase “less is more”. Things cannot “go back” to the way they were. None of us have the capacity that we had prior to Covid-19 lockdowns. We need to adjust our expectations which may alter our vision. This does not mean that we need to lose a sense of who we are, on the contrary now is the time to be laser focused on our identity and purpose.

Being clear on who we are as Unitarian Universalists and what values to which we are committed helps us to focus on a new vision of how we want to live out our mission in this world. Having clarity on what is at our core and what truly is our purpose, helps various groups throughout our congregation “row in the same direction”.

We also need to be doing the “tending and care” part of our leadership development programs very seriously. We don’t want to ask more of people, with our providing more. That is a sure recipe for burnout. We all need to be spiritually fed.

One creative solution could hit on multiple focus areas: themed worship and small group ministry.

Small group ministry programs are a great way for people to be spiritually grounded in covenant and Unitarian Universalism and to feel connected to others and to the congregation. Having these covenanted small groups can give us the continued support that is so critical to self-care. This program can be theme based; helping to get us all thinking about Unitarian Universalist identity and keeping us grounded in our thinking and theology as we move into various committee or team meetings.

Our largest and most visible program for most of our congregations is our weekly worship program. These services can also be streamlined and theme based. Linking the monthly small group ministry themes into the weekly services can really get us aligned as a congregation.

Focusing on our values as UUs will help us shore up our Unitarian Universalist foundation. Themed worship and small groups provide stability, clarity, support, identity, and deeper connection.

This is just one creative response. What are yours? Let us know. We want to hear from you. Sign up for the Essentials for Lay-led Congregations program to get more resources and connect with other congregations facing similar challenges.

Often less is more and when done thoughtfully less can be enough.

About the Author

Kathy McGowan

Kathy McGowan has been on the Congregational Life Staff for the Southern Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2013. In that time her areas of focus have been in systems thinking, theology, conflict, intercultural sensitivity, and staff supervision. She is one of the primary...

For more information contact .