What might UUFM emerge into?
The world of religion today is different from the world many of us grew up with. Church–or any religious institution–feels optional to most people. More and more people define themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or as “nones,” having no particular affiliation. A lot of people find themselves moving from one religious group to another, sometimes in very wide jumps–Methodist to Mormon to Muslim, Baptist to Buddhist to Baha’i; often with stretches of nothing at all in between, or as the final destination. And many people decide they don’t need or want a religious home, preferring to explore at their own pace, or not at all. On top of that, people are skeptical of religious organizations, afraid they are after their money or have some hidden agenda.
So, religious communities are increasingly finding themselves floundering. Numbers like attendance and new members flag. Volunteers are stretched so thin in their lives that it’s hard to find time to help out. And, congregations are notoriously slow to adapt to new technologies.
We UU’s may be unsure of what to do with these societal trends, but we like skeptics. Many of the spiritual explorers out there could find connection and community within Unitarian Universalism, if we are open and inviting to them. That also means fearlessly stepping outside of old patterns and approaches and finding new ways to connect.
The Soul Matters packets this month emphasize how emergence doesn’t come by force but by leaving the space to allow a natural opening up. We can watch that in plants that grow out of the ground. They need to have enough space and protection to push their heads up out of the earth.
How does that apply to where our fellowship is? We have been in discussions about the potential of moving from our current building. We are exploring possibilities for two different styles of worship services. Our leadership is considering how to reorganize to move away from unwieldy committee structures that no longer work well in a digital world. We are keeping our eyes open for what may come. And trying to change with it. We can’t rush to decisions but have to allow what is right to emerge.
I can’t imagine what UUFM will look like twenty years from now. What I know is, that something different from how we look today will emerge. It must, if we intend to thrive as the future evolves.