Resistance to Simplification

Resistance to Simplification

One of they keys to the daunting complexity of becoming One church in Three locations (and for church growth in general), is to try and simplify everything.

I explain our thinking in a previous post here.

What is transient? What is permanent? What is it that only we can do?

For example, faith formation for our children, youth, and adults is permanent. It is essential. We can’t contract it out to anyone else.

Discussion groups, tai chi, yoga, identity groups, activity groups– these are– for the most part, non-essential. The folks who are active in those things might disagree, of course.

What that means is that we must make sure we do the essential things, and let the non-essential things take care of themselves. If folks want an adult discussion group, fine. Let them set one up. If it begins to falter due to lack of participation, then let it die.

Religious Education? It’s a given. The ministers and staff will drive the content and be responsible for its success and failure. If the program begins to falter due to lack of participation, then the program needs to be evaluated and adjusted. Trial and error.

And what is the purpose of church programs anyway? They are not necessarily useful in and of themselves. I prefer to think of them as “steps.”

Our faith formation for children, youth, and adults, are steps– to what? Toward spiritual depth as a Unitarian Universalist.

Then, of course, you have to define what a spiritually deep UU looks like 😉

What else is essential? We have identified 9 Core Ministries. Everything else is an Enrichment Activity (it gets its own publication).

I like to think of this as the core curriculum (majoring in become a UU with spiritual depth), and elective classes (the enrichment activities, e.g., tai chi, yoga, identity groups, activity groups).

So, I am not proposing we drop enrichment activities or electives– just that we put them in their proper place.

I am also proposing that in a minister led church (as  opposed to a lay led church), the minister(s) and staff be responsible for the Core Ministries.

What are these Core Ministry Teams?

  1. Worship / Celebration
  2. Faith formation (children & youth)
  3. Faith formation (adults)
  4. Social Justice
  5. Stewardship
  6. Welcome
  7. Leadership Development
  8. Care of Souls (pastoral care)
  9. Healthy Communications

In future posts I can outline how we do each of those teams. We also have two primary staff teams:

Creative Team. 4 ministers, 1 intern, and a religious educator meet weekly on a 42 day cycle to plan out our monthly sermon themes, the arc, and the religious education components (we adapt some for children, but primarily write our own for adults).

Administrative Team (A Team). We discuss & decide logistics of the 3 campuses and how to do team development.

Have we faced resistance to the simple church concept? Of course we have. What did we do about it?

  1. My whole board of trustees read the book and then dedicated most of a board meeting (with me gone on vacation) to discussing it.
  2. The staff and I prepared a workshop on it for 45 leaders of our 3 campuses.
  3. We discuss it wherever and whenever people in our church bring it up.

This means we are on the same page. Of course, some people are uneasy– does this mean the senior minister is going to get rid of the choir? Of course not– it’s an essential component of our Celebration Ministry (#1 above).

But we trust each other– the ministers and leaders– and that means everything.