Why should congregations consider theme-based ministry (TBM)?
Rev. Scott Tayler, the Director of Congregational Life at our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), explains the gifts of TBM this way:
- It unifies and strengthens community! It connects all aspects of programming which in turn creates the experience of the entire congregation going on a spiritual journey together each month.
- It offers depth! When small groups and RE share the same theme as the worship service, suddenly small groups aren’t just “another program”; instead they become a way to explore the worship theme at a deeper level.
- It takes our theology seriously! Spreading themes across all of our congregational programming reminds us that we are not a cafeteria religion offering people random experiences, but instead a rich tradition that promotes distinctive values.
- It fosters collaboration! When all staff and lay leaders are working on the same theme, it allows them to share ideas and support each other at a whole new level.
- It builds the architecture of our associational interdependence! Theme-based church allows congregations to follow the same themes and break out of our congregational silos. When different congregations follow the same themes, staff and lay leaders can more easily reach out, share ideas and collaborate.
Sheila Schuh, director of religious education at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY shares her “Deepening Our Faith Top Ten!” saying that theme-based ministry:
- Lifts positive energy and engagement of volunteers
- Can be tailored to the traditions, history and vision of the congregation
- Incorporates thematic elements in worship and learning
- Offers cross-generational ties among families, the congregation, and the wider world
- Provides seasonal and spiritual grounding to the liturgical calendar
- Serves as a springboard for creativity and curiosity
- Stretches spiritual focus in directions that you may not have considered
- Results in economy of scale in preparation and media available
- Generates a spiritual connection between the program and the pastoral
- Invites leaders into deeper level internal work