Last word on Pathways

I read the final report to the UUA Board of Trustees on the Pathways situation, (PDF format) and I was plainly disgusted by the sheer avoidable wastefulness of it all. (Thanks to Steve Caldwell for the first mention of the links.) The tone of the report is “we learned some lessons — and it is inappropriate to criticize” — this translated to “don’t complain and we’re not going to hold anyone accountable” for spending a million dollars and getting so little in return. And, yes, a UUA funded mission is fair game; it isn’t a Pathways “internal matter.”
I was going to tease the report apart and analyze it, considering what should have been known and avoided. I was going to ask people to talk openly about the plans, the lack of talent pool for new church growth, the new culture of spending, and the embarrasment this ordeal will cause for UUA development.

In short, I wanted to talk about trust. But why bother? I doubt anything can or will change, and I have more important work to do. Really, which of us can’t find something more compelling and useful than tilting at 25’s windmills? If there is some UU saving message — much discussed, never described — I still don’t trust the administration to see it implemented.

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

2 thoughts on “Last word on Pathways”

  1. You know what lesson I learn from reading this report? Most Unitarian Universalists don’t know how to do large churches. The size of a church is not necessarily related to its worship style, the musical style used, etc. Large churches are about basic administration skills like project management, realistic goals, fiscal responsibility, etc. Large churches are about organizational leadership skills like letting vision drive the church (think Rick Warren), being able to delegate, not micro-managing, creating a good “corporate culture.”

    Don’t get me wrong, small churches are great, I currently work in one. But if a church is ready to grow, and the only thing holding it back is lack of skills on the part of minister and lay leaders — well, there’s no real theological justification for that kind of behavior. Particularly not for us Universalists, who have long been driven by a zeal to get our saving message out to as many people as possible.

    So while you’re probably right, Scott, and nothing will change at 25, I think those of us out in the field can make a difference if we choose to do so.

  2. I don’t want to write too much, because I’m finding ignoring UUA failures to be quite liberating, but (1) if the one who pays the fiddler calls the tune but (2) the UUA administration doesn’t have a clue about church planting, then why not Independency? (Worked for the Murrays!) Or hooking up with the edge of another denomination with a better history of church planting?

    Also, I’ve long been frustrated by the Boomer Captivity of Unitarian Universalism. The UU Enforcer has been writing about this, and other commenting. Megachurches are so Boomer — look at the experts, Rick “Trader Joe” Warren works — and in some church planting circles terminally out of date. Plus, it almost always depends on an urban sprawl physical plant in a sea of asphalt. Yuck. But the UUA rule of thumb is “have one model to the exclusion of all others, make sure it is 15 years old, and be sure to run it into the ground.”

    But wait, I was enjoying ignoring all of this. Perhaps my “Independency or Elsewhere” strawman works for individuals, too.

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