Thursday, 26 March 2015

Harness Our Energy

How do we as a free religious tradition make best use of our energy? How do we ensure we optimise all that we are and all that we have to offer? How do we use the power that we have?

I have thought about this a lot in my time as both a congregational Unitarian who has chosen this tradition and as a full time minister. How do I make best use of my own energy and power? Who and what do I look to for inspiration? Are there examples to learn from, to not so much follow but to be inspired by? How have they harnessed their power?

When I think of energy, in a human rather than spiritual sense, it is the power of example that has always inspired me. Not so much what people or institutions say, but how they are. There are Unitarian congregations throughout this land who have bucked the trend and breathed new life into their communities and drawn new people to them, inspiring them in a multitude of ways. They have harnessed what they have. Interestingly, it seems to have little to do with a particular theological approach or a type of community or leadership. They have though tapped into something present within the community and harnessed it appropriately. They have also used material resources wisely too. I have witnessed example of this within my own district.

The congregations at Chorlton and Oldham have breathed new life after years of struggle. This has been due to financial and other support from the district, commitment and energy from the few hands within the congregations and inspired and energetic leadership from the two ministers involved. This is an example to me and hope to others in our district and to Unitarians nationally.

I think the key to "harnessing our energy" is to understand who we are as communities and what we can offer to the world outside our windows.

I think the key is to not spread ourselves too thin. In many congregations, including the ones I serve, all too often gifted and energetic people are drawn out of congregational life to the centre. Hey, I did it myself and I saw this happen a lot during my time as a member of Cross Street Chapel in Manchester.

I think it is important to understand that we are congregational by nature and that our primary focus ought to be to the wider communities we serve, the people outside our windows. It is they who need to know who we are and what we are about and what we can offer to them, but we also need to learn to be better at what we say we are, "to do exactly as it says on the tin" as the old advert used to say.

How do we harness our power?

Well I do not think there is one single answer. That said, I will suggest somewhere to begin.

Look around at the examples close to home and further a field and uncover and further discover how they have "harnessed their energy".

Then look at the communities outside our own congregational windows and begin to understand who they are.

Then look within our own communities and the energy present and look at what we do and do not do and if we can do it better.

Finally commit to building from within our own congregations and communities for it is impossible to really harness that power if it is spread all over the land.

Oh, and finally, let the world know about what we are doing. Make appropriate use of all forms of media including social media, ie use it in a positive way. We don't need to travel the land these days to deliver the good news, we can do so from our living rooms. I have harnessed my energy this way. Several people have over the last few years have contacted me to tell me that they were going to attend Unitarian congregations due things I have put out there through social media etc. A national contribution without having to take any of my energy away from the congregations I serve.

How do we "harness our energy"?

Well I suspect that it begins by opening our eyes and ears. I suspect that it begins by taking a good look around us and by listening to the voices of inspiration both near and far.

Rev. Danny Crosby

1 comment:

  1. Sadly many of our Unitarian causes are sustained by the valiant efforts of a few people ; I estimate that about a tenth of the estimated Unitarians in the country are 'keeping the show' going : considering that the demographic of the denomination is 55 years + the implication for the future is obvious and has been for many years. The non conformist churches overall are facing the same problems and are already starting to disappear ; the URC is now smaller than either of the constituent partner churches that formed it in the late 1960s. There are large swathes of the UK where attending a Unitarian is no longer feasible for many people because of travelling involved. If it takes longer to get there and get back than the duration of the service, IMHO it cannot be considered a local church.