There's been a recent Blogger discussion about Growth Strategies for the UUA, and the fact that it would be good to get all of our eggs out of the large church rapid start model which, even if it was working well (it's been disappointing so far) is only one basket for all of our eggs.
We here in Albuquerque, which will never be a place for a rapid start congregation, since it's a city of less than a million people and already serves an unusually large number of UU's per capita (have you seen this?) have an idea which we think might be revolutionary, planting new churches as small community branches worshiping as lay led small groups and centering that worship around a video recording from our early service. We've worked out a lot of technical details, are poised to start our own on-campus video cafe worship service, and we would be ready to start forming small groups in towns 30-200 miles from us where we (yep!) have a few members already. The only problem is that it's going to take a staff person a year to get those small groups going, and we don't have the money for that staff person. We think that if we had about $45,000 for a staff person and start up costs, we could bring between 200 and 500 people into the UU fold in 6-9 locations around New Mexico within a few years. We could do this slowly, one group at a time, using volunteer effort, and since there is no obvious way to get more than a $20,000 grant for a project in this denomination (talk about how we think small!) that's what we will probably do. Unfortunate for several reasons, one of which is that bringing on three or four branches at one time will force us into the work of transformation from what we are now, into a "to the core" multi site church. That transformation is what other churches need to watch, so they can learn from our mistakes, and the sooner the better.
I like the foundation idea. It would be a place to go with big ideas. What we have now in the Funding Panel and Chalice Lighters and such are good places to go with small ideas. Of which we have plenty. But it's big ideas that we really need now.