Introducing the Integral Membership System

I recently presented a leadership training at Unity Spiritual Center that featured three modules: The Integral Ministry Model, the Ownership Project, and the Integral Membership System. (Click to download a flyer for an upcoming program to be held at CSL Seattle). These modules form the foundation for our five year plan to increase the culture of ownership in preparation for creating a tipping point that moves the ministry to the next level.

I have already mentioned in previous postings that in our current membership system (common to most Unity and CSL churches / centers) ownership, accountability, and competence are not  elements or qualifications of the governing member role.

Does that not bother anyone else?

Over 50 ministry leaders from Unity Spiritual Center attended the weekend training where I shared how the Pilot Program ministries field-tested the Integral Model of Ministry (UWM called it the Thriving Ministry Model) and how our current ministry practice perpetuates a litany of unintended consequences like: Pareto’s Principle (20% / 80% rule), high turnover in the culture of receivership, high tolerance for dysfunction / drama, loss of innocence when elected to the Board, low tolerance for change and innovation, difficult ministerial transitions, and challenging family system dynamics, just to name a few.

The advantages of the Integral Ministry Model is that it focuses on cultivating ownership, accountability, and governing member competence via what I call the Integral Membership System. In other words, the system for bringing people into the governing member role has at its core a systematic process of increasing Center Update July 12 slide 1individual and collective ownership, accountability, and competence by virtue of the system itself. It all begins with the question: What is a seamless path or methodology to move a first-timer (guest) to competent leader? What would be an intentional process for bringing people into alignment with that which constitutes ownership? What do we count on our governing members for with respect to financial support, meaningful involvement, spiritual practice, emotional and spiritual maturity? And, what do governing members say YES to when they agree to fulfill the governing member role?

A labyrinth walk is a great metaphor for the graduated (phased) approach to governing membership. There are two phases to the labyrinth experience: The Entry and the Return. The Entry is symbolic of the first phase of the process that begins with the first time guest’s engagement of the Welcoming System (you can download a copy of the Welcoming System Guide from Unity Worldwide Ministries). The Welcoming System has an aim of moving a new person into some form of sacred service or affinity group within 6 weeks.

When someone is interested in becoming a Community Member, they officially begin Phase One of the process by saying YES to participating in a spiritual gifts discovery process and then saying YES to some form Center Update July 12 Slide 2of Sacred Service (you can also download these two guidebooks as well from UWM). Next, they say YES to participating in course work that comprises a curriculum where they learn about Unity basics, and other foundational teachings that ground the individual in an ongoing process of emotional and spiritual development. Finally, they say YES to some form of Minimum Member Contribution (details regarding how this is calculated, introduced and institutionalized are provided at the Transformational Leadership Development training).

The Entry portion of the system can take a year or more to complete. Then, if the Community Member is interested, the elements that constitute the qualifications and competencies for the governing member role can be engaged. The elements of the Return portion of the membership system are much more extensive and includes modules that require more dedication and maturity in order to complete. Before Phase Two of the Integral Membership System can come online (become a part of the ministry’s practice) four questions must be answered by the established core of the ministry:

  1. What are the qualifications for the Governing Member role? These relate to the competencies needed to be an effective governor (voting member) within the membership system.
  2. What are the elements or processes by which an individual fulfills the qualifications for the Governing Member (GM) role? If being conversant with the Bylaws is a qualification for the GM, what is the process for fulfilling this qualification? Perhaps an orientation of some sorts or a training module? The task is that once all of the qualifications are identified, then the steps to fulfill each qualification must be listed.
  3. What is counted on by someone in the Governing Member role? What does the governing member DO in their organizational role? A list of things that are counted on (accountabilities) is created in the form of tasks or responsibilities to be fulfilled (DOING’s).
  4. What does the GM say YES to when serving as a Governing Member? Their YES also includes a willingness to be held to their YES each year at the annual renewal of the GM role (term of GM is one year).

There are a couple of Bylaws issues that need to be addressed if the system is to work well. The first is that the Bylaws need to state that the term of the GM role is one year. At that time, everyone reasserts their YES in order to maintain active GM status. In addition, the Bylaws need to state that the process for becoming a GM is stipulated in the Governing Membership Process Policy (the Integral Membership System is outlined as a policy document set forth by the Board of Trustees and ratified by the Governing Membership, rather than set forth as specific provisions of the Bylaws. (Sorry, I do not have a sample policy to share at this time). This is necessary as the actual membership system comes online in phases and at different levels of complexity over time. It is easier to update a policy than to amend Bylaws.

Note: While the Integral Membership System was intended to be a program module for those ministries in the Pilot Program, the Pilot Program ended prior to it’s rollout. I am currently working with churches who are interested in implementing the system on their own in addition to bringing the system to Unity Spiritual Center Spokane.

If you are interested in hosting a subregional Integral Ministry Arts™ training, contact me. Have PowerPoint will travel.

Blessings, Gary