Our Shared Responsibility for Engagement at All Levels of the Membership Continuum
On October 18th, the Board and Membership team sponsored a very well-attended and inspiringly energetic meeting to discuss membership issues. The congregation has routinely described a strong yearning to grow our supporters and members, yet we have not been growing, and the board wanted to have a forum to address ways we can move forward with growth. This meeting was an excellent opportunity to clarify our goals, discuss new strategies, and explore reasons we have not lived up to our potential and hopes.
The board gratefully acknowledges our thorough appreciation for the turnout and enthusiasm. There were over seventy-five in the sanctuary to engage in learning about membership issues, and sixty attended our lunch meeting to dialogue about how we grow our membership as a community. Not only were our numbers greater than anticipated, but the energy brought to the issue was palpable and progressive, and the board is thankful for the positivity expressed among the group, and for the many important contributions of the participants, including dozens of commitments to further help in membership.
At this town hall meeting, we had a dialogue about our current practices, what we do well and not so well, and then our lunch group had small group conversations about how individuals and groups within our church can best support our growth goals. One of the primary advances of the afternoon was the important acknowledgement that growth is a congregation wide responsibility, shared by all in our church. It is important to note that all of us must carry this all-important responsibility. We defined individual approaches to supporting membership growth along a continuum of involvement with the unaffiliated, newcomers, excellent engagement of current members/supporters, and fully developing of members/supporters, and solicited commitments from individuals present.
Some helpful ideas that were presented included inviting friends to church, more fully taking advantage of social media avenues to promote our church (spanning Facebook, Yelp, You Tube, Twitter, blogs, Google, and beyond), supporting community projects and events, wearing nametags consistently, purposefully meeting with those we do not know during coffee hour and at other church activities, actively inviting friends and others to join in church activities, and attending regional and national UU events.
Importantly, great suggestions about new ideas were also brought forth by our wise and engaged lay members. These included having workshops, training and skits about what to say to invite others to church, intentionally involving newcomers from the day they come to church, providing the wider community with events and forums to bring outsiders into our church, having seat buddies for new members, and advertising various groups in our church more fully, among many other great ideas. These suggestions were all written down, and plans to fully incorporate both the personal commitments of attendees and excellent suggestions are well underway by both the board and membership team.
Let me know what you hope to do, or what you think is best for us in terms of membership growth. I’m always open to talk about anything concerning our church; contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on my cell at (406) 490-1664. If you were not able to be present, let me know what you can commit to in helping us reach our shared goal of growth.
Ostin M. Warren, President