Above Board: January 2016

by Jon Johnson

Your Board of Trustees has embarked on a journey of exploration this year.  Our President, Amelia Shenstone, has said that “the 2016-17 Annual Vision of Ministry will be informed by our ’15-’16 Open Questions that the Board will be intentionally mulling over.” That’s why you may have heard/read so much about the three Open Questions:

  1. In which ways will we change our mode of governance in response to the Hotchkiss report?
  2. What should our next Long Range Planning Process look like?
  3. What will motivate greater generosity and engagement at UUCA?

I am focusing on the third Open Question today since Erin Stanfill and I volunteered to facilitate our yearlong conversation on generosity and engagement.  We chose The Other 80 Percent by Thumma and Bird as our study text, in part because the authors drew upon new research across a broad range of Protestant churches of all kinds.

The authors listened to thousands of church members’ voices to discern what motivates less-connected, inactive members to move toward a life of engagement and living out their values in community.

So, how can we shift more UUCA members from sitting to serving, from being spectators to engaging more deeply? Here are some subjects we are discussing:

  • Listening . . What do we hear from the committed 20 percent?  What do we hear from the less-committed 80 percent?  How to create a Listening Team.
  • Learning . . Cultural causes of the 80/20 problem.  Comparative patterns in churches.  Misinformed efforts to building participation (one of my favorites).  How to create a Learning Team.
  • Leading . . Start with what we do well.  Create more ways for people to participate.  Reach toward spiritual growth and development.

Members of the Board have read about 2/3 of the book so far and we’ve had several engaging conversations on the authors’ theories and research. It’s too early to predict where this exercise will take us, though it has already fueled some ongoing activites like SuperCharged Sundays and revitalizing our covenant groups. Whatever the destination, the journey has been worthwhile and thought provoking.