The results of last year’s congregational survey and Winter Warming Groups strongly confirmed what many of us felt in our hearts.
We come to the fellowship and stay for many reasons: UU values, children’s religious education, stimulating thoughts, spiritual quests. But behind these all is a biggie: Fellowship. Community. Friendship. Companionship.
There are many ways to put it, and time and time again we saw it in our data. When people found a warm welcome they stayed. When they didn’t (and a few said they didn’t), they left.
A while ago, the Board of Trustees asked the Council on Shared Ministry to focus on a goal to grow the congregation. Doing so would allow others to access the benefits of belonging, help ensure the survival of the fellowship on into the future in the long term and help us share resources in the short term.
The thinking was simple: Before we brought people here, we wanted to make sure the fellowship was a place they would like to be. Thus, our first goal was to be welcoming. We strove for 85 percent of those who walked through our doors from September to January to see us as welcoming. We put in motion a number of actions to help ensure that outcome, from working with greeters to adding greeting as a part of our services.
The results? Around 89 percent saw us as welcoming.
The second major thrust of the plan was to bring more people through the door via better publicity, quality events and invitations. We wanted to bring in at 50 first-time visitors and increase monthly Sunday attendance by 5 percent.
The results? We don’t know exactly how many new visitors we welcomed, but we do know it was more than 50. Just our first event under the Campaign for Growth plan, a talk on prison break, brought in around 50. Meanwhile, average monthly attendance September through March was up by more than 7 percent when compared to monthly averages from the three years prior.
What’s more, so far this year, our fellowship has brought in 13 new members, whereas over the past 10 years, we’ve averaged around eight per year.
We’re entering Part II of our Campaign for Growth now. Our goals?
- To become even friendlier. (We would like 95 percent of attendees to rate their experience as a welcoming one.)
- To maintain attendance at levels seen during Part I.
- And to enroll 10 new members by our January 2017 new member service (a goal that we hit shortly after we made it).
We’ve been successful so far, but we still very much need your help. Here are a few things you can do:
- Invite a friend to a service or a fellowship event.
- Practice hospitality: Survey the crowd. Say hi to those who need it. Be that warm, welcoming face.
- Put up posters.
- Volunteer and enrich our offerings.
Meanwhile, the Membership Cluster wants to thank you for all you’ve already done. The fellowship is what it is because of the warmth of its members.