Thursday, February 12, 2009

Step 2: Conducting Research for the MFC, Part I

My many years in planning have taught me that my crystal ball is often cloudy. When it comes to research, it can even be stormy. Research will go where it will. What follows is intended to be neither comprehensive nor definitive.

"Research" is too large a topic to be covered in a single post. So this is Part I.

The best place to start is assembling the research team. It should include individuals with expertise in examining, ministers successful in different types of ministry, and interested stakeholders.

The team would start by collecting information from the MFC and others about the history of the MFC and its current practices. It would then conduct a literature search and look for "best practices" in examining in other denominations/religions and in related occupations. Focus groups also are likely to be helpful.

One of the challenges facing the research team will be obtaining consensus about just what is expected of UU ministers. For example, for years there has been much discussion about UU growth (or the lack thereof). People have argued about whether this means growth in numbers of congregants, social justice, spiritual depth, or some other parameter. How important is "growth" and what is meant by it?

To put this search for consensus and clarity in the broadest perspective, what do the UUA and its member congregations hope to accomplish in the foreseeable future and how will they examine for ministry so as to support those objectives? This links examining to workforce planning and workforce planning to strategic planning.

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