A New Strategy for Extending Unitarian Universalism
How to serve the UU's (there are a few!) in New Mexico's small towns? How to serve the potential UU's (there are even more of those!) in New Mexico's small towns? How to capitalize on the fact that many internet connected cultural creatives are heading with their cell phones and lap tops to smaller towns and rural areas to work away from the big city?
Even all these together only make, say, 25 people in towns like Portales, Roswell, Socorro, or Gallup. And a congregation of 25 is a struggle to maintain. It's just not big enough to provide good worship, children's programs, and spiritual growth.
But what if a large church like First Unitarian could gather its members in those areas around a big screen TV in a home or public meeting place. Those small groups could, under the direction of a trained worship leader, sing simple, unaccompanied songs if there was no piano, tell a story to their children, meditate, share, and take an offering, sing the children off to play or have an RE lesson, and then hear the morning's sermon, from the early service at First Unitarian, downloadedto someone's laptop computer. Week after week, (except for a few services a year which featured live speakers), this would be the format.
Now, these 25 people, instead of focusing on getting speakers week after week, could focus on good worship practices, community, RE, and spiritual growth. These members of First Unitarian/xtown would have ministerial services when deaths occurred or weddings needed to be celebrated, they would have worship leaders who could be helped to develop child dedication materials and other rituals, their youth would be connected to a larger group for, say, a weekend coming of age retreat or summer camp, their covenant group leaders would have an opportunity for training and use of materials from First Church, their bookkeeping would be taken care of, their children's RE teachers supported by our RE department (and their pledges supporting all of this, of course, but no amount of money can buy these services for 25 people, so it would be a very good deal for them.)
This would turn First Unitarian into a Multi Site Church. It would be a new experiment; it's barely even been talked about, much less tired in UU circles. And while it's the "in thing" in Evangelical circles at the moment, they are doing this on a much larger scale that we, here in New Mexico, would.