This church decided some years ago to use one of the Unitarian Universalist monthly theme programs. There are several that are available. They were started as a way to share resources between churches, help lay leaders as well as ministers leading worship, have a common theme for small group ministry, and for faith development. This is not a program of the Unitarian Universalist Association, but rose up, in our congregational polity, between ministers and congregations.
UUCBV uses the Touchstones program, and each month we get resources on a common theme for all parts of church life. Sometimes we who work together to create worship here at UUCBV, really like the themes, and sometimes we grow tired of them and do something else. Last month you were treated to having our very capable Artist-in-Residence, Joe Daigle, lead worship, on a theme he chose. We make exceptions for holidays an annual celebrations.
This month the theme is Mission and Vision. This church created your last mission and vision statements in 2009, and your covenant in 2001. It is recommended that a church revisit these statements every 5-7 years. Before I came to this church, I led the church I was serving in creating new statements, with the help of one of our Southern Region UUA staff, Connie Goodbread. Connie is now the Co-Lead of the Southern Region, along with our fellow Texan, Natalie Briscoe, who has done work with this church in the past. I talked with your Board of Trustees about redoing them, and we decided we could use the old ones, and go deeper into what they mean now, as you searched for property to buy for your new church building. I have asked you in sermons and in breakfast church to think about what these words mean to you now. We will put the complete statements on the back of the Order of Worship each week in November. I ask you all to reflect on what they mean to you now.
The next step after creating the statements is to create a strategic plan to make the statements come alive. Very few of our congregations go on to this next step. This church has not. At General Assembly last year I attended a workshop on Strategic Planning that Boards lead in our congregations. There are very few resources on the UUA website, though there are many resources for crafting Mission and Vision statements. I will be in touch with Connie and Natalie about how this church could get more specific in how you can live into the statements you have, or if it is time to renew the whole process. We will need their help. I admit I have not been through the process, as a congregant, Director of Religious Education, or a Minister.
There is much information from the UUA on Mission & Vision. The following is a succinct description. Mission seeks to answer these questions: “Why do we exist? What is our purpose? Whom do we serve?” Vision, though related, focuses on these questions: “What is the picture of the future that we want to create? What or who do we want to become?” Together, they articulate a purpose and goal for an organization. Mission is our reason for being. Vision is our compass.
After the reason for being and destination is guided by compass, there have to be specific steps. Like our GPS that gives us directions after we have set the destination, if we don’t have incremental step by steps along the way, we just get lost. Robert Latham, an expert in church life, says, a church that is not growing has a mission problem. By growth, he was not talking solely about numerical growth. Growth has many dimensions. How is the congregation deepening as a beloved community? How is it supporting the spiritual growth of its members and friends? How is it making a difference in the wider community of which it is a part?
Let’s get started – creating not only the physical space of the church – but the interior spaces of our hearts and minds., our unique place in this community.
Keeping the Faith,