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Small Congregations

Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations with fewer than 150 members are considered "small" in our faith community. If your congregation is in this category, you probably know well that the needs of congregations of 10, 25, 50, 75, 100 and 150 are very different.

The following resources contain the answers to the most frequently asked questions I've received. Please feel free to contact me or your District Staff for more information and resources. For each of the categories below consider contacting your District Staff person for support and perhaps to benefit from what other congregations in your region have learned.

Thank you for holding up the light of Unitarian Universalism in your community. Though some of us are isolated in distant communities, together we work to nurture our minds and hearts, to serve and to transform our world.

Email Lists

You might find it helpful to subscribe to one of the email lists available. These lists provide exchanges of ideas with leaders in similar situations.

  • LREDA Small
    For religious educators (also available via Church OnLine when you become a subscriber).
     
  • Smalltalk
    A support list for small congregations where ministers, religious educators, musicians, other staff, lay leaders and members can discuss the joys and challenges of life in the small congregation.

General Small Congregation Information

If you are looking for general information about a wide variety of issues connected to being a small UU congregation try:

Ministerial Search

Church OnLine

Other Small Congregation Resources

  • Jane Dwinell and Ellen Germann-Melosh offer practical ideas for running a small congregation in the book Big Ideas for Small Congregations, which may be purchased or borrowed through your district library.
     
  • Building congregational health and vitality requires that we focus on vision and covenant. Without these, we risk making important decisions based on habit, strong personalities, or fear. The UUA Congregational Handbook section Guided by Vision, Mission and Covenant offers good ideas and exercises to work on these.

Conflict

Conflict is part of congregational life because we carry different needs, life experiences, and personalities into our faith communities. Learning how to be in conflict is part of our transformational work. Four particularly helpful resources include:

Growth

  • As UUs we value growth and depth in heart, mind and community. We have learned that growth in numbers is an outcome of addressing conscious and unconscious blocks to growth, deepening covenantal relationship and expressing our vision in the larger world. The UUA Office of Congregational Life offers a good on line starting point for Growth Resources (PDF, 23 pages).
     
  • To grow in numbers, a congregation will benefit by first stating clearly why growth in numbers is important and coming to agreement as a community that this is a priority. You may choose to ask for UUA assistance with these conversations.

The creation of this web page was in part funded by the Fund for Unitarian Universalism.

For more information contact conglife @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, December 14, 2012.

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