Saturday, July 11, 2009

What do you want from a church? Supposing you could build it from scratch.

Every church needs a plan and every plan needs goals, but before we get to the goals we have to understand what the expectations and requirements are of the various stakeholders in that church.

Who are the stakeholders in a church?

They are the members, the members families, the potential members, the community in which the church exists, the wider organizatonal structure of the religious organization, the State and nation in which the church exists and lastly, the world.

What are the expectations and requirements of each of these groups?

What do the members want? It is hard to know unless you ask them.

If you are a member of BUUF what do you want from BUUF? If you are a UU what do you want from Unitarian Universalism? If you are not a member of BUUF or the UUA what would you want from a UU church in your community?

Please leave your comments on this blog.

This is article #7 in a series on Birth Of A Congregation.


  1. What I want from my UU church:

    (My record of receiving these things is imperfect, but my drycleaner is about the only organization of human beings I can think of who have a perfect record of giving me exactly what I want every time. But I'm assuming you're asking for goals, not realism.)

    1. Sermons that make me think. My experience has been that lay programs are, on the whole, fairly poor in quality and sometimes veer wildly from theological topics. I personally need a minister as preaching is central to the experience for me. I wouldn't want a lay surgeon, a lay psychologist or a lay lawyer either.

    2. Opportunities to do charitable work. IMHO, nothing, outside of awesome preaching is better for the church. Working with the poor keeps people grounded in the realities of non-upper-middle-class life, gives members a chance to work side-by-side and bond, and sometimes even results in a nice writeup in the newspaper that brings like-minded people to the church's door.

    3. RE programs for adults, preferably with lots of discussion. RE for the kids is important, too, of course, but my impression is that one of the big reasons people stay at a church is that they make friends there. RE programs that get people animated and talking are great for that.

    OK, that's my top 3.


  2. Hi CC:

    I like your top three very much and fully agree. I would add a fourth which would be excellent music and other arts (dance, painting, stained glass, architecture, gardens, etc.)

    I am very taken once again with the Fish Philosophy which is comprised of four things:

    Making People's Day
    Being attentive (being present)
    Choosing the right attitude

    I think a Fish church would be a great church where people get each other's undivided attention, they feel like they have and other's have made each other's day, they have chosen the right attitude and there is a spirit of playfulness where we can all be kids again.

    Jesus said that unless we become like little children we can't enter the kingdom. If the church is a gateway to the kingdom, then it must create an element of playful consideration.

    I have appreciated your recent comments. Thank you very much.

    All the best,

    David Markham


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