New Economy and New Vision for Religious Life

Over the past year three-quarters of adults in America report being personally affected by the economic recession.  Nearly thirty percent of them in significant ways, such as living beyond their financial means, dealing with higher levels of debt, and spending down their savings.   Those ages 27 to 45, households with income of $40,000 or less, families with young children, and the “unchurched” are among those reporting the greatest impact.

Along with the impact on personal finance, giving to religion took a dip, particularly among women, Baby-Boomers (ages 45-65), low-income households, families with young children, and some minority groups.

In a new book entitled Futurecast, researcher George Barna reports how “The American Dream” is being re-imagined as more and more people adjust to their new circumstances.  Current trends offer myriad opportunities for pastoral care and ministry–the needs are staggering and urgent.

For example, trend research indicates that core values and religious affiliation are changing, with the largest faith group in America identified as “Skeptics,” largely a blend of atheists and agnostics.  Interest in spiritual life is high, but there is less enthusiasm for conventional congregational settings.

  • Healthy interpersonal relationships–family ministry, life issues & skills programs
  • Opportunities for personal growth and spiritual deepening
  • Personal financial planning classes & Stewardship Education programs
  • Ways of tapping the power and connectivity of music and social media
  • Community-building

These are clear indicators that now is the time when congregations must find creative ways to boost funding instead of succumbing to the impulse to slash budgets.

Congregation Leaders…now is the time to breathe life into your mission and vision for your congregation’s brightest future!   Instead of engaging in agonizing discussions about your financial woes, use your precious board and staff meeting time to make your case for your congregants’ generous financial support, brainstorm creative solutions, educate yourselves about effective stewardship practices, and enthusiastically report the ways your congregation is making a difference and changing lives.

The Barna Group conducts and reports research on current and future trends in congregational life.  For research on the effects of the economic recession on giving and budgeting in congregations:  http://www.barna.org/donorscause-articles/486-donors-proceed-with-caution-tithing-declines

Unitarian Universalist Association President, The Reverend Peter Morales shares his thought-provoking sermon Beyond Belief with the UU Church of Arlington, Virginia;http://www.uucava.org/page/beyond-belief-by-uua-president-rev-peter-morales-feb-12-2012

For an amazing array of faith development and community-building programs for all ages:  http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/index.shtml

Ministering to families and all ages: http://www.uua.org/re/multigenerational/index.shtml    http://www.uua.org/re/adults/46930.shtml

Our Whole Lives-comprehensive sexuality education program for all ages:  http://www.uua.org/re/owl/index.shtml

Resources for Nurturing Generosity and Stewardship Education for individuals and congregations:

http://www.uua.org/finance/fundraising/generosity/index.shtml  http://www.uua.org/documents/stew-dev/study_guide_giving.pdf

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