How to Pick Monthly Ministry Themes

There are a number of ways that your congregation could pick ministry themes.

1) Your minister(s) could pick them.

2) Your minister(s) and Director of Religious Education could sit down together and pick them. Your Director of Music might also take part as well as other staff members.

3) If your congregation has a tradition of shared ministry, your lay worship committee might collaborate minister, Director of Religious Education and possibly other staff members.

One method for picking themes is to have the group suggest themes and narrow down from there. This may take a lot of discussion time if it’s done as a large group.

Another method that could be done is this:

a) Create a large list of themes that you have not used already: several hundred themes. Print out the themes in large print in lists and cut out each theme onto its own separate slip of paper.

b) Divide your decision-making group up into groups of three and four. Divide the slips of paper between the four groups. Ask each group to narrow the list town to their top ten choices for the coming year.

c) Write each theme that has been selected onto a Post-It or a 3×5 card and post all of the cards onto a board where all can see. Then, write each month off to the side and leave room to move a card or Post-It next to that month.

d) As a group, start moving cards under particular months. This will take some time and discussion. Think about the symbolic parts of the year in terms of festivals, traditional religious holidays and secular holidays. Think about the seasons in your geographic area and how they might interplay with the themes. It may take a meeting or two to do this part, but rearrange the theme cards under the months until the group feels that the year has a good flow between themes.


One idea is to do this every spring in approximately March/April. Select the themes for June to May of the coming year. Sometimes our congregation will use the same theme for the July/August months; other years we will have two separate themes.


Marlene J. Geary
Chair, Sunday Services Committee
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
Manchester, CT, USA
27 Feb 2013