Listen to MP3 of my talk “Unitarian Universalism Unleashed – Our Tipping Point.”
11/3/09 Update: For a text explanation visit this post.
This version was delivered at the Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich, RI on November 15, 2009. The tipping point is a reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference. The sermon looks at how our faith presently doesn’t meet Gladwell’s three requirements for a product, service or idea to “tip” and go viral.
Over on Ellenska’s Blog (12/1/2009) the issue of the name “Unitarian Universalism” and branding has been raised including this charge:
I call on the Unitarian Universalist Association (the American denomination) to survey non-UUs, to find out how they understand and respond to the words “Unitarian,” “Universalist,” “Unitarian Universalist,” and “UU.” We talk about growing our denomination, but we’re squandering our biggest asset — a branded name. And it isn’t “Unitarian Universalist.”
Personally I agree that our name presents a challenge. A huge one. In 2007, for our congregation’s Association Sunday my wife, Rev. Amy Freedman, and I presented the congregation with a new way to explain Unitarian Universalism. In short, we attempted to re-brand Unitarian Universalism for the 21st century and give the congregation an easier way to talk about their faith – easier than having everyone craft their own elevator speech.
Since then I’ve been guest speaking and sharing this message. In a sense I’ve been field testing this. And so far the results are very encouraging. I’ve encouraged people to email me with feedback and the feedback is that this is helpful. Ellenska’s post has inspired me to share the most recent recording of my talk on this theme with you.
In developing this we established the criteria that it should pass not the “elevator test” but the telephone test. Telephone is a game where people gather in a circle and then one person whispers a phrase or line into the fist person’s ear. They then turn and pass it on. It is whispered around and around and around until it goes full circle. The last person shares what they were told and usually it is so distorted everyone laughs. With the average UU elevator speech, even the well crafted ones, I would wager they wouldn’t survive more than one or two telephone exchanges. Ours? Its grounded in the name which serves as a cheat sheet. Remember the name and you can remember our explanation.