I’ve been commenting off-blog to some colleagues about the wonderful resources I’ve found with other denominations, and how this reality should make us look within the UUA and demand better.
The first resources I want to uplift is from the American Baptist Churches, sometimes known as the “Northern Baptists.” At about 1.5 million members, they’re about ten times the size of the UUA. So perhaps we can take their own decade-long challenge to grow by 1,010 churches by 2010 without needing to duplicate it. Proportionally, and on an annual basis, we come close (to ten per year) but the churches we foster — no, really just adopt — are tiny and rarely grow more.
You can learn more about this campaign, New Life 2010, at www.nationalministries.org/newlife/
In theory, we’re like them insofar as church plating is a regional/district endeavor, but there the similarities end. (For the record, they have 27 regions; we have 20 districts, so we can assume that each region is on the order of a third or half the size of the UUA itself.) For us, the district mandate is recent and obscure. And for them, well the commitment to mission and resourcing says it all.
I want to focus on their published resource, New Church Planting Planters’ Manual
At first, it irritated me that it cannot be downloaded as a single document. But what you get are chunks that are easy to read, easy for them to update, and (rather importantly) easy for the end-user to sift through. Some parts are meant more for planters, and other more for regional leaders, and so forth. I would like my colleagues and national and district leadership to read the parts of this document that are meant for the American Baptist leadership. These are largely in sections one and two. Read it as a means of encouragement.
A planter should really have all of it on hand. I’m about a third of the way through, and find it overall useful and haven’t even gotten to the nitty-gritty.
More resources can be found at this link but this is more illustrative of how various denominational units can be used to share in church planting than helpful for an inquisitive Unitarian Universalist.