My church is involved in an exciting program...we're adopting some new folks into our church family in our Branch Ministry Program. The congregation is growing branches long enough to stretch to two towns in New Mexico 40 and 90 minutes drive away. The members in these branches will have a full program in their town, with sermons delivered by video.
The Branch Organizer and I talked today about what constitutes a "full program"? for a small (or big!) group of UU's? Here's what I think.
Worship and Celebration for all ages is the core of what a church does. Our Branches will have weekly worship services, with the first 15 minutes for all ages. They will sing, celebrate milestones, affirm their faith, and hear a story/sermon appropriate for all ages, have a brief moment of quiet, and take an offering. After the kids leave, the adults will continue with more complex fare.
Spiritual Growth and Learning The kids will have an RE program and adults will have covenant (spiritual sharing) and discussion groups and classes.
Community of Relationships and Care The branch congregations will get to know each other, take care of each other in times of difficulty, and celebrate life's milestones. They'll have potlucks and memorial services and visit each other in the hospital.
Serve their Community Together Each Branch will have a local service project to give the coins from their offering and time and talent. Members will have the opportunity to join the rest of our church in opportunities like Just Works trips, UUSC membership, and so on.
Members usually come to churches by ones and twos and fit into existing nooks and crannies in the congregational house. Getting ready to adopt whole groups of people...that's requiring building an addition. What fun!