Friday, November 09, 2007

Now here's a great question, and another, too.

My wife just got a book which I'll be swiping and reading (I'm going to claim it as extra-curricular reading for my UU Polity course), The Fellowship Movement, by Holley Ulbrich, subtitled "A Growth Strategy and Its Legacy." Now I haven't even cracked the book -- so what in the world am I doing already writing about it?

On the back cover there's this:

"Why, when 32% of current membership is from congregations started during the fellowship movement, do we still question this growth strategy? But also, how can this type of historical growth lead to congregational cultures that block growth today? Ulbrich's thorough and comprehensive history offers answers and insights pertinent to today's growth efforts."
Um. Yeah.

My own congregation's a fellowship (still--and I suspect for good--despite having a full time ministry for over 15 years. And no, I'm not sure what that hybrid will eventually result in; it does mean that there's a very strong culture of member leadership, of joint ministry...). I see both the success -- even by Monroe Husband's estimations, this was damned dubious, since a group big enough to support one nascent fellowship opted (for geographical reasons) to found two fellowships. Both still exist, as fellowships (with ministers), and both are successful and growing.

And I see something of "we're a fellowship" attitudes that create obstacles to growth--to people embracing and permitting the growth that wants to happen. We get a lot of visitors. If more of them--if more of them who came back a second time...--stuck, we'd be growing much faster. I'm not sure how much of that is attributable to the fellowship, and how much to UU failings in general in this regard, but I'm really looking forward to Ulbrich's comments.

Now the question: Can I squeeze this 125 page paperback into the next few days, when I have some reading and a paper to write as well?

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