This was written with the gracious help of Liz Howard, a UU young adult and a good friend of mine. She currently lives in San Francisco and works in the software industry, but her true calling is change management. Follow her on twitter @Lizthedeveloper -Ed
The cardinal rule of change management is that you never finish creating. This is especially true for Unitarian Universalists; UU congregations have covenants and not creeds, so that we are in community with each other and walking on a path toward truth is more important than our individual destinations. As a liberal religious movement, we should be open to exploring and evaluating new ideas.
Once you accept that a group is always creating and changing, it follows that a group is never finished, settled, or in a rhythm. Even when a group’s members are constant, their needs change as they grow spiritually or move through life events. If your programs or events stay constant, then hopefully they change the audience, creating closer bonds or opening new avenues for spiritual exploration. This mindset makes it easy to change what is not working. If it does not change people, it is not working. This also makes it equally hard to keep what is working going. The solution to this is to keep notes, get feedback, and measure yourself. If a program works, make sure you know what worked and why.
Ritual is an important part of religious expression, and its important to note that you CAN repeat yourself, but make sure to allow for change to occur as part of the process. Repeating programs and events is also important when there is a new audience, but understand that the results might be completely different. I promise that you will learn something new every time. This is the richness of variety, and it makes up a big part of who we are. Following a script too strictly is stifling. Think of scripts as compass headings, not strict paths.
And finally, share what you did. If you write things, make things, cover emotional ground or make navigational adjustments, tell people about it. Keep everything a discussion, a lesson. We learn from each other always, in failure or success. Be open, and that openness will come back to you in the form of even more lessons.