Forming new organizations for service and fellowship

It isn’t easy to organize people for fellowship or to engage in a common purpose, but there’s no reason it needs to be made any harder for lack of resources and perspective.

This is the first part of an occasional series about the simple organization of religious groups: churches, but also support organizations for groups of churches and IRS “religious organizations” akin to the former Unitarian Universalist Association “independent affiliate” status.

I carry two assumptions:

  1. It’s easier to work from a model — even if you have to revise or reject parts of it — than to start with nothing, and so I’ll be offering models, lists and directions. I won’t continuously say, “you can do this” or “your experience will vary” because I’m assuming you’ll use the parts you need and will reject or alter those you don’t.
  2. There are plateaus of ability and stability in organizations. A large, complex, staffed, sleek, well-funded (and funds-seeking) organization is good. A small, simple, rough-edged and bootstrapping organization is good. A large, complex, rough-edged and threadbare organization is not. One solution is making a bold leap from small, past awkward, to big — and good luck if you can manage it. Another solution, which is at least as practical and probably more reliable, is to plan to be small and encourage others to organize in order to build capacity. Think networks rather than monoliths. So I’m going to assume that these organizations will be born and kept small.

Disclaimer: Lastly, I’m a minister and a nonprofit administration pro. But I’m not a lawyer nor an accountant and don’t give legal, accounting or tax advice. I’ll tell you what I would do, and where you can get facts and resources, but the decisions are finally yours.

By Scott Wells

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.