I’m going to take a couple of days to consider the issue of congregational growth in the Unitarian Universalist Association.
So I asked myself: How many emerging congregations — organizations in formation and those (once covenanted) that plan to join the Unitarian Universalist Association — are there? Their number is a good indicator of the UUA’s growth prospects. I’ve heard that 5% per year growth is desirable, but I don’t recall where I heard that and besides, it reminds me a bit of the unsustainable growth economy we know all too well in the United States. (When the Southern Baptists have a drop in baptisms, you know something’s up.) Even so, you need to grow a bit just to make up for the congregations that disband, disassociate and consolidate.
So what’s the number? 41, or about 4%. If all emerging congregations became members within a year, but that’s hardly the case. Some have been “emerging” for several years, and I have to wonder if there’s a time where a congregation is mature enough (whatever its size) to be admitted. Or they should affiliate with the regional district and be done with it.
Or if there’s a lack of fostering and a want of resources to get over the hump with enough speed to fend off fatigue. That’s not a hypothetical idea. When combing the roster for emerging congregations, I noticed two omissions. Not emerging, not members. Gone.
I’ll go back over the last three years of Board of Trustees minutes to see what the congregational growth rate is, and how it compares with growth in individual members.