To Post Sermon Titles or Not Post Sermon Titles…That Is The Question

Over on the UU Growth blog, there is a conversation going on as to whether churches should publish sermon titles and/or topics a month or more in advance.

I am firmly in the “do not publish” camp. And since I am in that camp, I’m going to point you to a few church websites…all non-UU…and the majority of them African American.

Saddleback Church (yes….that Saddleback)

Myers Park Baptist Church-Charlotte (figured I would point out a church in the city where GA is going to be in 2011)

Trinity UCC¬† (Barack’s old church…you know…the one with the black radical preacher ūüėČ )

Allen AME-NYC (if you¬†know who Floyd Flake is…this is the church he pastors)

Windsor Village United Methodist-Houston (G.W. Bush’s friend Kirbyjon Caldwell pastors here)

Ray of Hope Christian Church-Atlanta (one of the largest churches in the Disciples denomination)

Now…of course…I’m pointing these churches out to you because they do not publish sermon titles (at least not on the internet) which I think proves my point…not publishing sermon titles does NOT create a barrier to visitors coming to church if they want to come to church. [And outside of Saddleback, how many of you had heard of any of these other churches? I am, of course, assuming that you’ve heard of Saddleback]

Of this group of churches, the smallest of them is Myers Park with an adult membership of about 1,900. So we’re talking about mega-churches in the really mega range. The reason I’m pointing you to these church websites is so that you’ll see something that I think it’s important to look at. As I said above, none of them publish sermon titles, but all of them devote space to the ministries of the church. And they are many my friends.

The other reason I point these churches out to you is to make this point…the reason churches grow is because they offer something for EVERYONE…not just the family that is looking to give religious education to their children. This is why ministries are important. If you aren’t offering something to the 32-year-old single¬†and¬†the 65-year-old couple¬†and the 18-year-old high school and/or college student¬†and the 40-something family then they are going to go look for the church that does offer them something. And when they find the church that does¬†offer something for EVERYBODY, they will tell their friends. And those friends will come and experience it…and tell their friends. And the cycle will continue.

So…if UUs are serious about growth…let me give a small suggestion. Don’t publish sermon titles…publish the works of your Men’s Ministry or Women’s Ministry or Single’s Ministry or Young Adult Ministry or Music Ministry or Addictions Recovery Ministry or Grief Support Ministry or Caring Ministry etc. etc. etc.¬†¬†

oops…sorry…got ahead of myself. You actually have to HAVE ministries before you can talk about them. that’s another post.

Do We Care? Do We Pay Attention?

¬†¬†¬†¬† I don’t know how many of you are on Facebook or who you’re friends with if you are on there, but late last week I got an update on my homepage that said that one of my friends had responded to a statement posed by one of their friends. Since the statement was about UUism and the UUA, I thought I would post the statement for us to consider. (and of course, if I post the statement here, I can give my cynical answer)
¬†¬†¬†¬† The statement, as stated on Facebook, is: Why the UUA is not all over this new book, All Shall Be Well: Explorations in Universal Salvation and Christian Theology from Origen to Moltmann…says a LOT about what is wrong with the UUA right now.
¬†¬†¬†¬† I agree. I think it says a lot about where we are as a movement right now. But…I also think that it says just how much we have removed ourselves from the ongoing theological conversations that are going on in places like the American Academy of Religion. I think it says just how little the average UU knows about our foundations. I think is says how little the average UU wants to grow spiritually or in knowledge of ourselves and our history.
¬†¬†¬†¬† But on the larger scale…I think it shows just how much UUs don’t pay attention. How many UUs know of the book about Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism that came out this year? How many know of Anthony Pinn’s new book about embodiment? (oops…sorry…I’m assuming that more than 5 UUs know who Anthony Pinn is) How many UUs know about the biography of Ethelred Brown that came out last year? (excuse me for making the same mistake again…maybe the real question is how many UUs know who Ethelred Brown is)
¬†¬†¬†¬† There is a lot of talk…scholarly and otherwise…about our movements in history. It’s a shame that all these other people are talking about us and there is no response or invitation to dialogue from us.
     Do we care? Do we pay attention?