Examining and interviewing for UU ministry // Climate Change
Monday, May 18, 2009
Envy & Evangelicals
Of all the books I read in seminary (and there were many!), one that made a particularly deep impression was The Very Large Church by Lyle E. Schaller.
A lifelong UU who'd never been inside a metachurch, I'd lumped together "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists." I learned that not all evangelicals are politically and social conservative and that the message of many of them is more about hospitality and salvation than about dogma.
The programs and services offered by the megachurches are amazing. I became jealous, imagining what UU congregations and ministers could do with the resources of churches of this size. While nationally we UUs were holding our own in absolute numbers, we were becoming increasing insignificant as a percentage of U.S. population.
In "The Coming Evangelical Collapse," Michael Spencer, predicts a major decline of evangelical Christianity. His reasons include evangelicals having become identified with culture and political conservativism and their failure to pass onto their youth a faith that can survive the impact of secularism. He write [italics his]: We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.
What does all this have to do with examining for UU ministry? Well, when you don't like an outcome, e.g., the flatlining of UU membership since the Us joined the Us in 1961, you may be tempted to round up all the usual suspects, including the formation and development of ministers. In this case, ministerial formation and development played a role in UUism's failure to grow, but the above articles give us context and perspective for evaluting that outcome and that role.
Have UUs also confused causes with a faith and have we failed to provide our youth--or even ourselves--with a faith that can survive secularism? How do we form and develop UU ministers who bring hope for our religion and for our planet?