Vitality and growth

I write my blog this week from Asilomar State Park near Monterey, California. I woke up my first morning to what looked like snow on the dunes outside my window. It turned out to be sand so white it sparkled in the early sun. Not to rub it in (and by the time you read this I’ll be back in Illinois), but it’s a beautiful place to be in February. I’m grateful that my church gives me enough time off to be here to be renewed in our work. Thank you!

I’m not only here to thaw but to attend two back-to-back conferences. Last weekend for the UU Military Chaplain Conference, I was with almost all of the 15 UUs serving in uniform. We talked about how to extend our UU prophetic witness within the context of our service and how best to support this vital young adult ministry.

Now I’m at the second conference, the Minister’s Association Institute. Isn’t it thoughtful that our association ganged them up to be economical with local church funds!

I don’t necessarily believe in a deity that takes a personal interest in my conference workshop selection, but a strange thing happened. I signed up for a workshop on preaching, but the presenter at the last minute decided he wanted to teach mostly about church growth. Four days of church growth!

This was exciting because the board has been asking a lot about growth. After two days of talking about church growth, I’ve seen a LOT of statistics, have written down dozens of inspiring aphorisms, and have a few neat tricks we might consider. There are three take-aways that I’d like to share, and sum up what I’ve learned:

  • Attractive communities survive
  • Worship and preaching needs be vital and vibrant
  • Growth is a by-product of vitality

Tomorrow will be finally be a day of preaching instruction, then I’m back for worship on Sunday. See you in church.

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