What do UUs hear at church on Sunday morning?
UU preachers have "freedom of the pulpit" meaning that they can preach on anything they want to. How do they decide what topics to cover? What are their objectives in choosing their topics and delivering their sermons? Is there any rhyme or reason or is it a local decision based on the preference of the preacher and what the preacher thinks the congregation wants to hear?
There is an interesting article in the New Yorker published on 10/07/21 entitled "What American Christians hear at church." which describes studies done of on line sermons both before and after the pandemic.
It is relatively easy to listen to UU sermons from various congregations because they are posted on-line on platforms like YouTube. The sermons range from poor to mediocre to excellent. In rating them what would be the criteria an evaluator could use? There are multiple criteria such as informative, entertaining, inspiring, etc.
The most important criteria is to what extent does the sermon promote the vision and the mission of the church?
The question of to what extent does the promote sermon the vision and mission of the church can be answered only if there is a clear vision and mission statement. The mission and vision of Unitarian Universalism is articulated in the seven principles that people covenant together to affirm and promote.
The prime mission of the church is to encourage acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth. Using this as a criteria there are few sermons that encourage spiritual growth. It seems that UUs are much more focused on social justice and feel good psychobabble.
Given that preaching is the corner stone of worship, and in UU congregations so much of the preaching is off the mark, is it any wonder that the denomination is stagnant if not loosing members?
UUs don't even have a shared model of spiritual growth let alone resources that facilitate the development of it. This lack of shared model for spiritual growth is a huge deficit in Unitarian Universalism limiting its ability to carry out its mission and achieve its vision of achieving salvation for humanity.
Let's focus on models of spiritual development and then see to what extent sermons preached in UU churches facilitate it.