Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Have a mission? Here, have another

The face we show our congregations should not be the face we show to the world.

When a stranger asks "Can you tell me about your UU church?" we need a quick paragraph. An elevator speech, to tell of our mission. It needs be understandable by someone who has never encountered us before.

Among ourselves, we also need a quick paragraph that encapsulates our congregation's identity and mission. But now we are among friends. Our language will be different. [Of course, I'm vectoring all this off a post at CUUMBAYA .]

Our statement needs to cover two things:
  • Axiomatic – That which is true for us, just because we are a UU congregation.
  • Unique – Our special gifts.
According to Alice Mann: Obviously, to create a mission statement, we must use heavily coded words that have a deep meaning for the members of the congregation.

Think on this. The mission statement we use for ourselves has to convey our identity. It has to cover our generic UU identify. It has to cover the special mission of this congregation. And it must be pithy. Thus, it will use a lot of code words.

Therefore, it will be rather opaque to newcomers to our church. So this isn't the elevator speech. This isn't the paragraph that you put front and center on the congregational home page. Instead, it's the statement that you spend an hour unpacking in a New UU class, or which the minister covers in a series of sermons.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.

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