Monday, April 14, 2014

Church died because those with the money walked away very nicely.

Unitarian Universalists are nice, very nice. Everybody prides themselves on how nice UUs are. And yet being nice is not always kind. Jesus was always kind but not always nice. He called the pharisees names - "You whited sepulchres, you hypocrites, you vipers," and of course He made a whip from cords and drove the money changers from the temple. Not nice.

And in my church the people who started it and made the primary contributions became disenchanted and walked away, dropped out, and so this year the church has no money and so the minister resigned. The church has basically been starved to death.

Nobody on the current board has asked any of the right questions or been able to actually face up to the truth of the poor management, programming, and operation, and the current minister has not been able to attract, engage, and retain enough new members to pay the bills.

The UUA has done nothing of consequence to help this struggling congregation beyond lip service and psychobabble and  that doesn't pay the bills.

While the malfeasance was not intentional the church is terminally ill and close to death. If it dies, an autopsy would be instructive in how not to manage a new church.

There are lessons to be learned here.


  1. Denial is a powerful thing. Denial is deciding to not recognize and acknowledge the truth because it scares you. "Nice" people as you point out live their lives in denial. The free and responsible search for truth and meaning has become a platitude and cliche rather than a genuine operating principle for individual and group functioning.

    "Nice" people are reluctant to call a spade a spade, take the bull by the horns, and get to the bottom of things because it threatens their control of the status quo. People are often not willing to move outside their comfort zone and disturb their status quo unless a person with more authority or a peer or subordinate with courage challenges them.

    Systems that protect the status quo will stagnate and die which may be what you are seeing in your church. It's too bad that someone in authority, ie the UUA or a brave congregant can't step up and challenge their adherence to a status quo which is killing them.

    1. Thank you Patrick for your inside about protecting the status quo. Same thing happened in a church I attended. People wouldn't say "shit" if they had a mouth full of it and the tension you could cut with a knife. I wonder what Edwin Friedman would say about such an "emotional system"?

  2. I am sorry to hear that the new UUA congregation you helped to initiate is dying, if not already effectively dead. It seems that more and more small congregations are dying or all but officially dead. In spite of the fact that the UUA continues to claim to have "over 1000 congregations" (which isn't really all that impressive anyway when you think about it) the recently updated UUA Data Services page listing certified UUA congregations currently shows that the UUA has only 991 certified congregations.

    No less than 56 congregations remain uncertified more than two months after the certification deadline of February 3, 2014. One wonders how many of them will drop out of the permanently, or simply close shop.

    "The UUA has done nothing of consequence to help this struggling congregation beyond lip service and psychobabble and that doesn't pay the bills."

    I can't help but wonder how much Stikeman Elliot Barristers & Solicitors billed the UUA for this bat shit crazy psychobabble?