Mission-Focused Communities Engage Members

Published on: January 28, 2015

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One of the primary intentions of the Transformation Experience (TE) Pilot Program was to field test practices that support becoming a mission-focused spiritual community with a high level of member engagement.

At the start of the three-year TE Pilot Program, the participating ministries had about 20% of their members engaged in sacred service. By the end of the three years, all of the ministries had at least 40% of their members engaged in service, with two having more than 80% of their members engaged.

Two goals for leaders in each spiritual community were:

1. Re-focusing attention on who and what congregants have come here to be and do as one way of developing a culture of
“ownership” and engagement among members,
2. Linking members’ gifts, talents and passions with opportunities for deeper and more fulfilling participation and

From the start, congregants were involved in several congregational discovery processes to achieve Goal 1. One was a three-hour congregation-wide workshop that invited participants to call forth the core qualities (core values) of the spiritual community. Together, they identified the qualities such as love, compassion, inclusiveness that they were already demonstrating but wanted to demonstrate in a greater way. All interested were engaged in making the core values explicit and then more consciously and intentionally building spiritual community and relationships together as they “walked the talk” of the core values.

A process called Conscious Conversations engaged all interested congregants in conversations around the following questions: [bullets]

  • What is the mission of our community?
  • What are 2-3 ways you would say we are fulfilling our mission as a spiritual community?
  • In what ways are you most fulfilled in our community?
  • Are there any shifts you are thinking might be beneficial for our community in any way?
  • What is a desire/need of yours (related to your personal calling) that is not being fully realized now?

A group of 10-12 people who represented varying perspectives and stakeholder groups in the spiritual community served as an Evolutionary Council (EC). They were trained in conversational skills to understand and connect with each person they interviewed at a deeper level, to discover what was at the heart of what the person was expressing. Through this process, the EC member identified, acknowledged and reinforced what was moving within the person at the core, and then invited an exploration of the ways the person might actively participate in the community to meet that desire/need. The very act of engaging the community in deeper level conversations was an important part of shifting the culture and focused attention and energy on deepening involvement in the spiritual community.

The Evolutionary Council compiled the findings from the Conscious Conversations, keeping the details for future use. They worked to discern overall themes and reported the overall findings and themes to the whole congregation.

The themes from the Conscious Conversation findings and the Core Values informed the development of a clear vision and mission and action goals, a process that involved the entire ministry to ensure support and increasing “ownership” and participation. Congregants were invited to share in the planning and actual work of achieving the goals. Many were energized and became involved in serving on the action teams in order to bring their desires into demonstration.

To achieve Goal 2, a Sacred Service Ministry process was implemented in each spiritual community. Spiritual Gifts Discovery was one of the twelve steps of the process. The Sacred Service Ministry Process is based upon knowing that each of us brings gifts and life experience into our spiritual communities along with an inner desire to experience meaning and purpose in our lives, to know that we are making a difference in the lives of others.

Within the five-week Spiritual Gifts Discovery, individuals discovered their gifts, passions and calling and how they connected in a greater context to core values, sacred service and spiritual development—maximizing each person’s capacity to grow and thrive. Trained interviewers worked with each person completing Spiritual Gifts Discovery to discern the best match of Sacred Service and to provide them a smooth entry into Sacred Service.

The Sacred Service Ministry Process assisted spiritual community members in finding fulfilling service as part of their own spiritual journey. It provided a venue for spiritual growth through gifts-based service with systems and people in place that created ways for those serving to feel successful and fulfilled, cared for and developed. In Sacred Service Ministry, members ended up both serving and being served themselves.
All of these processes and more promoted ever-increasing levels of congregant “ownership” and involvement within the spiritual community, in service to their mission, goals and values.

Guidebooks for implementing each of these processes in your ministry are available as free digital downloads below.




To learn more about the Transformation Experience, please see our Transformation Experience page.


Seven Leadership and Ministry Resource Guides have been developed from the Transformation Experience program. Unity ministers and ministries may download them for free. Learn more on the Leadership and Ministry Resource Guides page.

Deborah Frownfelter
Rev Deborah Frownfelter serves as Executive Director of Visionary Research, Development and Training at UWM and supervised the field-testing process as well as co-authored most of the Leadership and Ministry Development Resource Guides.

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