What is a “living church” and what does it have to do with membership? Here is a description of a living church from an article that was adapted by the UU minister the Rev. Sam Trumbore.
Living churches always have a parking problem; dying churches don’t.
Living churches have lots of noisy kids; dying churches don’t.
Living churches’ expenses always exceed their income; dying churches take in more than they ever dream of spending.
Living churches are constantly improving and planning for the future; dying churches worship the past.
Living churches grow so fast you forget people’s names; in dying churches you’ve known everyone’s names for years.
Living churches move forward and out in faith; dying churches operate totally by sight.
Living churches are filled with healthy pledgers; dying churches are filled with tippers.
Living churches support community work heavily; dying churches keep it all at home.
Living churches dream great dreams of beloved community; dying churches relive nightmares.
Living churches have the fresh wind of love blowing; dying churches are stale with bickering.
Living churches evangelize; dying churches fossilize.
How perfectly this comparison describes UUCA, no parking, noisy kids, who are all these new people! Living churches don’t just happen by accident, they occur because of the work of the congregation. When I interact with newcomers and potential new members they frequently tell me what a vibrant, exciting, and energetic experience they had at a service. But, occasionally I have a conversation or hear of an incident where a newcomer felt isolated because no one approached them during social hour. My response is to please try again but, unfortunately, these folks don’t usually return. It is the time during social hour that our potential new members learn about us – who we are, what we stand for and the work that we do. The conversations that our visitors have with you, our members, determine whether or not they will return and whether it is worthwhile for them to support our work. To continue to be a “living church” all of us must reach out to our newcomers when they have reached out to us. You can help support your membership program simply by having a conversation with a visitor on a Sunday morning. When you see that new face at social hour, or someone standing by themselves looking lost please initiate a conversation with them. Let us work together and continue to grow our church. There is still so much to do and we need all the new energy and ideas that we can get from new members. Let’s do this together!
Venny Zachritz, Connections Coordinator