Growing an Engaged Church
What would a church look like if members of its congregation were 13 times more likely to have invited someone to participate in the church in the past month? Or if they were three times as satisfied with their lives, or spent two hours per week serving the community? Based on solid research by The Gallup Organization, Growing an Engaged Church helps to create a way to be the church instead of just “doing church.” Members of FMUU presented how we can put these concepts into motion in our own congregation.
In the book Growing an Engaged Church, Albert Winseman talks about spiritual health in a congregation. What do YOU think makes a congregation spiritually healthy? Attendance? No, that’s not it. Perhaps membership, then? No, that’s not it either. Instead, the four signs of a church’s spiritual well-being are:
1. Life Satisfaction - People with life satisfaction have a strong sense of direction and peace in their lives.
2. Inviting - People who enjoy their church invite their friends to attend.
3. Serving - People show their concern for others through service, whether that’s mowing the lawn, pulling weeds at the garden, sitting in conversation with our Bhutanese friends, giving someone a ride to church, or serving on a committee.
4. Giving - People who are engaged with their churches are big givers of about 5% of their annual incomes. They generously help the church carry out its mission.
Next come the question of hos some churches have many more actively engaged members. Well, there are three magic bullets for improving people’s engagement in their church. First,we need to know what is expected of us if we are members. Included in the order of service was a “Covenant of Membership” that detailed what is expected of you as a member, and what you can expect from the church by being a member.
The second magic bullet is when the church helps its members discover what they do best. There is a way to do this that we actually heard about last week. That is the Clifton Strengths Finder, published both online and in print by The Gallup Organization. It’s composed of items somewhat similar to the Meyers-Briggs analysis. Ultimately it comes down to finding out what people love to do, what they do very well, and matching that with a volunteer task that lets them shine as the stars we all know one another to be. The church needs to turn its whole process of volunteering upside-down: instead of describing jobs and calling for volunteers, we’ll find out people’s true talents and fit that to meaningful work they can share with the church.
Remember, there’s a third magic bullet for increasing engagement. Gallup calls that “small group ministry.” One kind of group is a wisdom circle, some of which are just beginning. We are offering six of these. Their purpose is to use reading, reflection, shared silence, and sacred listening to one another’s stories to support each other’s spiritual growth. As you have heard before, the six circles are
- Spirituality in midlife and beyond, facilitated by Beth Anderson
- Writing for spiritual growth, facilitated by Carol Kapaun Ratchenski
- The Clifton Strengths Finder: Insights for life, facilitated by Claudette Peterson
- Spiritual practices that build energy, facilitated by Jaimie Altringer
- Questions for all the answers you have, facilitated by Mike Headrick
- Practicing Spirituality with the World’s Religions for Unitarian Universalists, facilitated by Chris Tuders
It’s love that put us here in these lovely chairs, that brought us together from our lonely backgrounds into a community of like-minded, passionately-committed people. And it’s love that we wish to spread through the mission of our church—
- to cast a net to catch all of those people who want a spiritual home of acceptance and depth,
- a place where authenticity is valued over artifice,
- where we honor our elders and church leaders who worked so hard to give us the foundation we have today
- where questions are not said in “Minnesota nice” but instead are valued for their toughness,
- where the children of the congregation belong to all of us,
- where we fight for the oppressed and speak for those who have no voice.
Come home to us here at the FMUU church. Join our family. We’ve been waiting for your homecoming, waiting just especially for you.