Listen to “Unitarian Universalism Unleashed – Our Tipping Point” (MP3)


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.

One thought on “Listen to “Unitarian Universalism Unleashed – Our Tipping Point” (MP3)”

  1. I like your proposed concise summary of what Unitarian Universalism is. Have you written it up somewhere? I ask because while I listened through this whole recording, it takes a lot longer to listen than to read, and I often skip something that’s only in audio form, even if it looks interesting. Plus I don’t really want to link to it, tweet it, etc, because others will react the same way.

    In other words, an audio recording is not as sticky as a blog post. =) I hope you’ll put it in the stickier form too.

    (As a technical comment, it sounds like the end of the recording is cut off a minute or two too soon.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s