This is a theory I’ve been developing for several years now, as I’ve worked in UU groups, specifically YRUU and UUYAN.
With both YRUU and UUYAN, on a congregation or district level, you have 2 modes of being: Pastoral and Programmatical. This concept should be pretty familiar to anyone who has worked with growing churches and districts.
Very rarely has a YRUU programme in any district managed to convert from a pastoral to programmatic role. The life span of a group of leaders is too short. Occasionally, a YAC (or equivilent) will manage to SEEM to convert, but when you look at the way they are truly operating, it’s still in Pastoral mode, with a Programmatic dressing…. and any group that attempts to be purely Programmatic, watches their groups falter, a bonds between them break. The former was the Michigan District, near its end, the latter the Heartland District, and the resulting current state. YRUU requires a pastoral core in order to survive. The people involved are too volatile not to, and groups and social constructs can too easily fall apart.
So far, I’ve yet to see a district YA/CM group even attempt to get out of pastoral mode. Heartland most definatly is in that mode, regardless of what our dressing may seem, and that we are classified as a Programme of the District, regardless of our actions. We are holding the individual groups together, prodding them, and providing the pastoral care they need to become more self sustaining, and construct a self-sustaining system of groups and communication.
In C*UUYAN, it’s terrible how often Pastoral care gets forgotten, or put to the back. The SC and certainly the body of ConCentric, are not in any position to actually provide pastoral care.
They have little to no contact with the individual people and congregations that need the service.
Thus, they must instead serve 2 other purposes, of which right now they are ill-serving both:
1) Be the Lobbying arm of the YA/CM world, in the wider UUA.
2) Be the group that can provide people with the skills THEY need to provide pastoral care.
This puts C*UUYAN in a completely programmatic role, with a goal of supporting pastoral work.
The RCMC’s do a halfway decent job of the latter, but I think it will take someone a good 3 of those plus a ConCentric with more of a focus on skill provision to actually get people prepared to do all the work that needs doing. This also means longer terms of involvment, and the larger group with people holding “seats of power” for longer periods of time. Regionalization of leadership (ie the Regional ConCentric aka RADIUS Conference aka CONvergence) will help with this.
The former can only happen in 2 ways:
First, there have to be people in each district, region, and locality who are Evangelical UUs, and Evangelical about YA life. While our district programming is geared at Young Adults, we have to also make sure we involve congregations, as our ultimate goal is to retain UUs, and build new groups of UUs.
Second, General Assembly. It is the biggest venue for both Lobbying and Evangelism, and has to be put at the forfront of the C*UUYAN programming, not the back. If this means the slimming of Opus/ConCentric, then so be it. We’ve already established the need for more regionalization and localization of those services as is, and a re-evaluation of how Opus/ConCentric is operated, and the facilities used.
In the end, it will be very important for the structures of C*UUYAN to change, and start serving the TRUE needs of the greater YA movement. Right now, the words (few though they are) coming from the C*UUYAN SC and ConCentric… really have little relation to anything going on outside those small circles.