Small Church Transformation

Via the DMN Religion Blog, here’s a story about a Methodist church that went from old and dying to vibrant and growing. The lessons it teaches are applicable to any religious group, be it Methodist or Muslim, Wiccan or Druid – even Unitarian Universalist.

1) “You’ve got to get to know the people you’re called to serve.” That’s simple enough – unless you get to know people as people, how are you going to know what they need… and how are they going to learn to trust you?

2) Make the service meaningful to the people you want to attract. Whether it’s a Sunday sermon or a Solstice ritual, too much religious worship is focused on making the leaders look good. It’s not about how smart or how spiritual you are, it’s about creating conditions that allow the worshippers to have a religious experience of their own – however your tradition defines “religious experience.”

3) “Teach the people how to be hospitable.” How many times have you visited a church or circle and all the people were standing around talking to each other? I know you haven’t seen each other in a week or a season, but there are new people who need to be made to feel welcome. Get out of your comfort zone, walk over and introduce yourself.

4) Let people know they’re important. This minister sends text messages to folks when they aren’t at church; not to scold them, but to say “hey, we missed you.” There’s a difference between being pushy and showing concern – you can do the latter without the former.

5) Have a vision and articulate it. This minister says “Every Sunday I preached about what I wanted to see in the church.” People will follow a leader IF that leader shows them a way to a better future. Just saying how bad things are isn’t enough – you have to show people how to make them better.

Read the article and see what you can do to help transform your religious group.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.


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