Church Growth: The Promised Land

Published on: September 1, 2011

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In 2009 Unity Worldwide Ministries created a visionary statement for thriving ministries. Out of this vision emerged an experiment called the Transformation Experience: “a holistic approach to church development that focuses on raising consciousness, shifting culture, building community, and developing the organization.” This experiment is a model that will give feedback on proven processes and tools to all of our Unity ministries.

When our center, Unity on the River, read this vision, we were excited and inspired and, we knew, “we have along way to go baby!” We also knew, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18. Thus we embarked on the journey. We felt like Abraham when God said in essence, “Come away. Leave your family and friends. Come to a place that you know not of. I give you three promises: (1) You will be guided, (2) You will be changed, and (3) You will be blessed and bless others.”

I would like to tell you how our journey is going at the halfway mark.

1. We have been guided.

We have had a magnificent consultant guide, Cyndi Swall, and other mentors who have visited our center, either in person, or through the Enlightened Leader webinars.

2. We have been changed.

We had a community meeting a few weeks ago and two-thirds of the community stayed. In the past at these meetings, we have tended to hear words like, “Why don’t you do such and such” and “You should ….” In this meeting we heard, “We could do …” and “It’s time that we figure out a way to ….” We are moving from a minister-centric to a ministry-centric culture, and this is showing up in all areas of our center.

Two main contributing factors:

Conscious Conversations. Over 60 individuals, one-third of our regular attendance, were interviewed. In the past, the biggest complaint of our community was that they do not feel heard. We have now taken their feedback and, with it, created goals for our future. People feel heard. We are creating our community together.

The Art and Practice of Living With Nothing and No One Against You. About one-third of our community has taken this class. The culture is coming to know that the world is our mirror, and thus there is no one to blame. They are learning to stay connected in disagreements and to avoid triangulation. An example: Our office administrator, who does not attend services but took the class, went up to an ancient “enemy” and engaged her in conversation because, as she said, “nothing and no one is against me.” Wow!

3. We have been blessed.

We are now clear about “who we came here to be.” When people know they are a part of a movement that is making a difference in the world, they want to become engaged. As stated, over 65 percent of our community is actively engaged (no more 80/20 rule) and the average gift per person has risen from $32 to $35 per person, up 9.4 percent.

4. We will bless others.

We are beginning to be seen in the broader community. We raised funds together for a new sign, and we have incorporated the new Unity branding.

UOTR is honored to a participant in the TE Program. We know that this pilot project is an investment in our future: the future of UOTR and the future of all Unity Worldwide member ministries. All investments take time. We are halfway there. The Promised Land is in sight. Hold the faith. The skills and the tools we have gained will be shared with the broader movement, transforming us all and helping to create a world that works for all.

Shipley Allinson

Rev. Shipley Allinson was ordained in 2003 via the Field Licensing Program and was the founding minister of Unity on the River in Amesbury, Mass.

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