Lately I’ve been hearing much talk about Unitarian Universalism and the future. How do we survive and thrive into the next generation, especially when it seems that so many other religious groups appear to be faltering? Do we need to embrace new technologies and media venues? Reorganize to be more efficient and/or effective? Raise more money, still more money, and yet again moremoney?
It seems to me that all this talk about (re-)making ourselves into “the religion of the future” focuses an awful lot on externals, and frets even more over what we think we’re lacking. So, with that in mind, let me begin my response to all of this with a simple observation …
The future begins now.
Whatever we plan and ponder for future times, our actions this very day – this very moment – set the course for that future. And all the technology, media outlets and fancy dressing-up still doesn’t answer the more essential questions of who we are and what we offer.
Before we can become the “religion of the future, I would posit that we become the Church of Now, defined by values and inspired by vision.
Love thy neighbor … now
Welcome the stranger … now
Comfort the afflicted … now
Let justice flow like waters … now
Be the change you want to see in the world … now
Look at the largest and most influential religious movements in history. They didn’t need capital campaigns, high-tech gadgets, marketing strategies or feasibility studies. They didn’t even need hierarchical bureaucracies – all that came later. They had their people, their vision, their values, and their belief that a better world could be created right then and there.
Perhaps, rather than worry about preserving the institutions and material possessions of our faith movement, we should consider what our faith is about, and how to empower and embolden our people to live our faith principles more fully … now