Sunday, November 22, 2009

The fear of religion

Growing a new church is tough. It takes time and patience and perseverance and faith.

Her: How's the new church going?

Me: Good.

Her: Are people coming?

Me: Yeah. We have been having monthly services since September and we've been getting out 40 adults and 10 kids each month. After the first of the year we're going to two services a month.

Her: My mother and father were Unitarian Universalists. But I can't convince my husband. He's not interested.

Me: Well, whenever you're ready we'd love to have you.

Did I say that starting a new congregation takes patience, perserverance, and faith?

What is it that we have faith in? It's the belief that as Unitarian Universalists we have something of value to offer ourselves, to each other, and to the world.

When we started on this venture, I was prepared for many obstacles and barriers, but the thing that I was least aware of and it comes up all the time is people's fear. They are afraid of many things, but the biggest fear seems to be a fear of commitment, a fear of getting roped into something that they are not sure they will feel comfortable with and then won't be able to get out of it. I think organized religion has traumatized millions of people who are terrified of getting involved in anything like it again.

I am wondering about how to deal with such fears?


  1. I have seen a lot of this fear in UU congregations. When I was acting as the Membership Coordinator at my former congregation, we would have people finally sign the Membership Book after attending services for 20 years! I wish I had a good answer on addressing the fear of commitment. I imagine most of just continue to strive to be welcoming and meeting people where they are at.

  2. Keep the love coming. Try not to ask them to commit to something before they are ready. Have you heard of the theory of "agitation" taught in community organizing? It involves getting to know a new person well enough to understand what jazzes them and gets them excited, then helping them to DO that thing in service to your cause. Focus on the positive, not on the fears. Keep the love coming. I know, this all sounds like platitudes, and it's not easy. Your work is appreciated.

  3. I have no great advice but to add prayer to your time, patience, perseverance and faith and that I will do. blessings, BU

  4. Golly the three of you are so supportive that I am greatly encourged. Thank you.

    BU prayers are welcomed and thanks for sending positive thoughts our way.

    Anon - I think your idea about finding out what interests them and what their needs are is excellent.

    Plaidshoes - Thank you for shaing your observations and experiences. They are very validating.

    Many thanks for your support and helpful words