Advent’s over. Or is it just beginning?

As Emerson looks forward to welcoming a new settled minister, it’s a perfect time to take a cue from our Christian friends and use the next weeks —as Christians do in December—to reflect on what that arrival means.

Where do we want to go? How do we define success? And—especially important now—what do we expect from a new settled minister?

We learned from the survey and the small-group meetings that Emersonians’ expectations are high—maybe unreasonably so. We want to do everything we’ve done in the past and more.  We want more programs, more activities, more people, more… more… more…

Yet some thoughts shared in a recent UUA Ministerial Search newsletter may shed some light on a more viable path:

“Congregations that are thriving, including those in partnerships with ministers formed during the pandemic, are finding a way to do what is most needed and important, rather than trying to do everything they used to do before COVID. In many congregations, there is less volunteer support (energy and funds) for ministry right now, and ministers, staff members, and lay leaders who try to do everything that was a part of ministry before COVID with less support are burning out. Right now, success in ministry may look more like joyful gatherings, meeting a need in the community in tangible way, and moments of grace, gratitude, and kindness than 26 fully functional committees cranking out church work.

Our best measure of success in the future may not be “bustling” or “bigger” or “all-encompassing,” but “thriving” and “joyful” and “kind.”

During the next few months (when everything seems quiet on the search front—although it isn’t), we need to carefully consider what’s truly important for our beloved community. When we welcome our new settled minister, we’ll be ready with reasonable expectations and a mindset for true success.