Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Congregational Agendas

What do you do if your congregation's agenda does not reflect your own beliefs? What do you do if you feel like your church has been hijacked by a certain cause? I just got off the phone with a very distraught church member/friend. She is feeling alienated because although she supports the cause de jour, it has become overwhelming. There are a lot of positive things UU offers. She fully supports the seven principals. But, if feels like the church has become laser focused on one issue. At times, I have to agree with her. It can be frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you are the one lone voice swimming against the current of many. I encouraged her to talk to the minister and offered to come with her as I completely understand many of her points. I have to say, though, this is not unusual for UU churches. Whether it be ethical eating, extreme environmentalism, LGBT issues or any other cause, it is easy for the church to getting focused behind one topic. What do you do, though, when some members start to feel disenfranchised? You could say that they could start working towards their cause and try to get more people behind it. They could check out a different UU church. Or, they could just sit back and accept it. Since the UU church doesn't have one overall message (such as spreading the gospel of Jesus), it can get very convoluted. UU churches can be very different from place to place. I remember when I was volunteering as the Membership Coordinator at our old church. I always recommended that people check out all the UU churches in the area. Each church has its own "vibe" and they should see which one fits them best. At first I thought this was great attribute to UU, now I am not so sure.


Amy said...

A laser focus on one issue is not a "problem" I associate with most UU churches . . . Maybe the reason we dabble in a little of this, a little of that, is precisely to avoid the kind of alienation your friend is suffering.

It's a tough one. I do think congregations need to be active in the wider world and I think focus is important. This means that some people will find their congregation is working hard on an issue that they don't care about much. It might help if she nurtures the parts of church life that drew her in and are most important to her. Does she sing in the choir, participate in a small group like a chalice circle, have a strong social network at church, go to Adult RE? Then more of that would help her stay connected.

We really do not all have to think alike to love alike, nor do we all have to put our energy into the same project in order to be members of one church body.

plaidshoes said...

Thanks for those ideas, Amy. I will certainly talk to her more about them. You are right, laser focus isn't usually a problem ;-), it just happens to be at this UU church. But, you are right, there are plenty of other things to become involved in, I think she is just feeling like there is one big push for this agenda and it is overtaking all the other work the church does.