“Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is” . . . what? To answer this question, let’s engage in some appreciative inquiry about being Unitarian Universalist. The appreciative inquiry process involves bringing attention to what we appreciate – what is good and works – so that it can be built upon. What is it that we’re doing well – and how can we do that even better? Along the way through the process, we might find some things that we’re doing that aren’t so important and worthwhile – and that we could stop doing in order to focus on the core mission.
Being Unitarian Universalist makes a difference in our lives. It’s made such a difference in mine, and I’ve seen what a difference it makes in the lives of others who come to our congregations in adulthood. You’d probably agree that it does make a difference. Now let’s explore together more specifically what that difference is.
Let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine 20,000 people, all of them, let us say, in the 25-30-years-old range, and all of them “ripe” for Unitarian Universalism – that is, they all have the sort of attitudes and yearnings that would make them ready to become members of one of our congregations. Imagine, then, that half of these 20,000 young adults actually do become Unitarian Universalists, and the other half don’t. The only difference between the two groups is that the first group happened to have a UU congregation close by, and happened to have a friend invite them to church to one day. The second group, we are imagining, has all the same average attributes as the first, but they just happened not to have a UU congregation nearby, and/or just weren’t invited or happened not to have heard about UU. The second group, then, never becomes UU.
After 10 years, how would we expect the two groups – groups that started off the same – to be different? What, exactly, would we expect or hope the difference would be that being UU would make in the lives of the first group? Obviously, it would affect different people differently, but overall, and on average, what difference would we expect being UU would have made after 10 years? After 25 years?
The question is a crucial one. If we can become clear on how we expect our Fellowship to change people, then we move to the second question: how can we more effectively and more thoroughly facilitate and nurture that change? It is the answer to these two questions that will define us, and that constitute our mission.