Just Treading Water isn’t Enough

This is the time of year when our lay leaders are transitioning. Presidents, Board members, and committee members are stepping down, and new ones are stepping up to the job. It’s a time of recognizing what has been accomplished this year and looking at goals we will set for the next.

But in some congregations, there isn’t much recognition, and goals aren’t discussed. Things are pretty much the same, year to year. The new “leaders” don’t really lead; they offer maintenance instead. The Program Committee scrambles to put together a list of speakers for Sunday services. The Religious Education Committee struggles to find enough teachers to teach the children. The Coffee person puts together a list of names and sends it out to everyone, telling them the Sundays they’re assigned to come early and plug in the coffee pot. As long as the basics are covered, people seem satisfied. No one steps back to ask, “What’s wrong with this picture? What else could we be doing?”  It’s business as usual.

So, if maintenance isn’t enough, what needs to change?

I have a quotation from Roy Oswald [a well-known church consultant] above my desk. It says, “The biggest mistake organizations make is not creating and sustaining a sense of urgency.”

One of the roles of a leader is to create a sense of urgency. What is the level of urgency in your congregation? Where are the pressing needs?

  • Are you concerned that there are people in your community who have never heard of Unitarian Universalism? Or what we stand for?
  • Or perhaps the urgency in your congregation has to do with internal needs. Maybe you are a small group with hardly enough people to get the basics taken care of.
  • Or does your congregation need to have a discussion about how effectively you are living out your mission in the world?

In the next couple of entries in this blog, I will give some examples of how congregations create and sustain a sense of urgency, and how they move forward to make real changes. After all, just treading water isn’t enough!


2 Responses to “Just Treading Water isn’t Enough”

  1. smijer Says:

    Hallelujah… this is a wonderful topic. Our own congregation has had a surge (ahem) of good things happening in the last couple of years, but there is plenty of room for improvement on all these counts. I’ll be watching for your updates on this. 🙂

  2. nheege Says:

    Glad to hear that there’ve been good things happening in your congregation. Feel free to leave another comment and tell us what led to those. Sometimes all it takes is a good idea and the permission to move forward on it.

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