Saturday, September 17, 2011

Minister Says "Go Get Your Own Denomination"

Holy Grail or Sacred Cow?  Perhaps both.  A respected UU minister asserts that if you are not on board with Policy Governance, you should find another denomination.

In the Policy Governance mailing list, some participants have questioned aspects of Policy Governance and whether it is the only or best approach to church growth.

Minister X, referring to a previous post extolling Policy Governance, writes
…  I kind of think it should be the last word for this chat group, which could now be split in two--one chat for those who want to move forward with a kind of governance that will bring us a brighter future, and one chat for those who want to bitch and moan about the loss of what was comfortable.. Those of you in the latter group, please go get your own chat, if not your own denomination.
First, consider what this means coming from a UU minister.  Is your higher calling really to reorganize the church and be sure that those that dissent leave?

The pros and cons of Policy Governance and or any organizational structure are unimportant.  What is important is what these debates say about the state of the movement and its leadership.  There is no mission, no vision.  If there was, how we organize would be a minor task.  We would choose some approaches that work and move on - it would not be such a large subject of Board and congregational focus.  The UUA is on a quest for salvation by re-organization.

What lies behind the contempt for dissent?  The dismissive tone fits a widespread UU pattern of first characterizing someone as resistant to change, negative, or anti-clerical, then shunning them.  Maybe two centuries as the Standing Order in Massachusetts runs deep in the Unitarian cultural DNA.  (The Unitarians were the state-sanctioned, tax-supported church in Massachusetts until 1835.)  This is not a pastoral voice.  It is a management voice - and a rather harsh one at that.  It puts Policy Governance as its doctrine, and the quest for organizational efficiency as its sacrament.

Folks, this is a church.  As a free-thinking, non-creedal community, we are supposed to care for all, even the dissenters.  We are in business of saving souls - all of them, not just the ones that agree with you.  And if you don't understand that, maybe you're in the wrong line of work.


  1. I will second that e-motion.

    "If you don't like it why don't you leave?"

    is a mantra that too many U*Us chant when people question things that are open to question if not outright *questionable*. . .

  2. Not just Unitarian. I've seen this across the Protestant spectrum as well.

    At least you're not one of the, "If you don't like it, too bad; we won't let you leave, and if you try, we'll harrass you for a decade."

    - Vivian