The Emperor Has No Clothes…or Yet Another View On “Congregations and Beyond”

Maybe it’s because I’m exploring my options with the Disciples of Christ.

Maybe it’s because this reads as four pages of words signifying nothing.

 Maybe it’s because, as usual, there is no dreaming big in this document–when all it talks about is making some kind of inroads with the 500,000 who say they are UUs, but not really; yet seems to ignore the fact that there are 300,000,000 people in this country who have never HEARD of Unitarian Universalism.    

The emperor has no clothes my friends. The emperor has no clothes.

I know that sounds harsh. It is. And I mean every word of it. But there is a reason I’m that harsh.

The longer that I’ve sat with “Congregations and Beyond” the more I get stuck on a question that I don’t think this document even remotely tries to answer–how do you measure success?

If you look at the second part of the two-part strategy I think my question becomes clear. It states:

The UUA’s role would be to provide the container, the technological foundation, leadership and coordination. We become a resource, a platform and a hub. This is not just about developing a set of programs, but finding a way for us to learn a new way as an institution.

So I’ll ask my question again; how do you measure success? How do you know if something is working or not working? Isn’t this too ephemeral?

The last sentence of the paragraph right before this says, “We cannot predict the groups that would form or which ones would be the most vital.” If that is true (and I believe that it is), how can the UUA provide the container, the technological foundation, leadership and coordination?

The Disciples have a growth program called Dreaming Big. Its goal is to plant 700 new churches by 2021. That is a measurable goal; they either plant those 700 new churches or they don’t.

How would the UUA (or anybody else) be able to tell whether people have “connected” with the “movement”?

If “Congregations and Beyond” is a growth white paper, it fails. There is no there there.


3 thoughts on “The Emperor Has No Clothes…or Yet Another View On “Congregations and Beyond”

  1. I haven’t read Congregations and Beyond, but I have an opinion on popularity. That is: popularity is not a measure of value or virtue. Do try out, or try on, the Disciples of Christ. Doing that excercises one of your primary responsibilities as a (!) Unitarian (!), which is, to search for the truth. And if, lucky you, you find it with the Disciples, you can be a Disciple, too! I miss you, Kim. Bunny

  2. Like Bunny, I have not read Congregations and Beyond, either. I have/ do ponder the difficult task of assessment in general, when it comes to congregational life. Some are better at it than others. I know that my graduate institution has always struggled with and even against assessment. It’s not easy to reflect on one’s own work. Sometimes there is not enough detachment for true investment to occur. Even the artist can fall into this pattern. The attachment to their work blinds the reality of what is necessary to continue. Keep asking the hard questions, Kim!

  3. Pingback: ‘Congregations and Beyond,’ Black History Month, and more UU blogging « : The Interdependent Web

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