The leadership of the Anchorage UU Fellowship has been engaged in a conversation about increasing commitment among our membership. Similar conversations, I believe, are happening in many other congregations. Our conversation has been informed, in large part, by Michael Durall’s The Almost Church Revitalized.
As I understand it, some of our leaders felt strongly that certain commitments–including pledging–should be a requirement for membership, and proposed bylaw changes to reflect these requirements for membership. Others recoiled from the idea, and I believe they were primarily opposed to a financial requirement for membership.
As I’ve said before, I love process. And I think process created an elegant solution in this case, one that honors both sides of the conversation. I’m not on the Board, and I don’t know that there is universal satisfaction with their solution, but I like it.
Here’s how it was presented in the July newsletter:
AUUF has worked to be open and welcoming to any and all who want to join. However, we also have a big interest in all of our members being active and giving both time and money to support AUUF becoming a strong, vibrant community. To that end the following are becoming our stated aspirations for members without becoming rigid in our getting to these expectations…
1) Attending Sunday services regularly.
2) Participating in at least one program each year that contributes to your search for truth and meaning, such as a small group or adult religious exploration.
3) Actively participating in AUUF social action projects.
4) Supporting the fellowship financially; striving to reach the 5% to 10% giving level is strongly encouraged.
5) Volunteering on a committee or in a way that sustains the work of the Fellowship.
6) Telling others about AUUF.
I love the word “aspiration” as a substitute for “requirement.” Requirement, to my ears, implies punishment for not measuring up. Aspiration, on the other hand, allows us to celebrate success.
I also love that there are six aspirations, six opportunities for increased commitment. Behavioral change doesn’t happen on six fronts at once, so I’m interpreting this as “choose two or three to work on right now.”
Hopefully we will share our aspirations with each other, allowing for the mutual support that makes success more likely. I chair our congregations Committee on Ministry, so I’ve got #5 covered. But I don’t attend as often as I’d like, so I’ll choose #1 as one of my aspirations. And I’d like to facilitate an Adult RE group–using the Tapestry of Faith materials. I think my third will be “actively participating in AUUF social action projects,” but I don’t know what shape that will take.
Here’s to achievable aspirations!