Let’s review what it takes to transform and grow your programs and ministries for children and youth:
You have to figure out how you’re going to measure growth, because you will get the growth that you measure for.
Then there are four steps to growth:
One: You must have a compelling vision, and I suggest that compelling vision is encompassed within four big goals: to have fun and build community; to gain religious literacy; to gain the skills associated with liberal religion; and to prepare kids to become Unitarian Universalist adults who are sensitive, moral, joyful, and have integrity.
Two: You must build an infrastructure that will support your transformative and growing program, including $1,500 per kid, one adult volunteer per two kids, 25 square feet of physical space per kid, a good enough program, and plans in place to continue growth.
Three: You can pluck low-hanging fruit as it is available, to help motivate and encourage everyone involved.
Four: You must have at least five years’ worth of patience; and if your congregation is on a stalled growth plateau, you will need twice as much time, a decade’s worth of patience.
And the whole purpose of this is growth and transformation. We want children to grow up into caring, sensitive, moral adults with deep integrity. We want our congregations to grow so that we can accommodate all those people out there who want to join us. They might not yet know that they want to join us, but they are waiting for our fun, moving, life-transforming message. Sometimes we literally save people’s lives, and that alone would be enough justification to expand our reach through growth. We also transform people’s lives (including our own lives) on a less dramatic level because we provide a place where we can makes sense out of life: we make sense out of life being part of a community where we can share our deepest selves; we make sense out of life through an intellectual knowledge of religion that helps us be better citizens in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world; we make sense out of life by gaining personal skills like meditation and singing that help us find meaning; we make sense out of life by joining a religious community whose values we share and believe to be of utmost importance.