Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How proud are you to be a Unitarian Universalist?

I have been thinking about how we might evaluate Unitarian Univeralist performance to date as a church.

There are many indicators we could choose to measure to determine our level of performance. One category of indicators might be named "Distinctive Impact" which I got from Jim Collins monograph "Good To Great and the Social Sectors." What impact does the organization have on its members, its community, the society at large. One indicator of impact would be the degree of individual, family, and civic pride that people have in the organization.

So, if we asked people, How proud are you of being a member of your Unitarian Universalist church?

How would you rate your thoughts and feelings about this question?"I am proud that people know that I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church."

0 = embarrassed. I wouldn't want anyone to know.

1 = I don't bring it up and really don't like to talk about it if asked.

2 = I acknowledge that I am a member.

3 = I am pleased to say that I am a member and am willing to tell people about the church.

4= I look forward to opportunities to tell people about the church and would invite them to come to church with me.
5 = I bring it up with people when appropriate and if they are interested I encourage them to learn more, come and visit our activities, and get involved.

Once we collect the information from a first survey that data would become the "baseline".

Then, we can ask, how can we improve on this baseline score? What it would it take for members and the community to feel prouder about the existence and work of the Unitarian Universalist church?

Now, we have a gap of where we are now and where we want to be. It then, stimulates us to think of what we can do to close the gap from here, now, to there, then.

Membership in Unitarian Universalism has stagnated over the last few years and actually dropped in 2009 - 2010. People don't drop out of churches they are proud of. Also people don't join churches that they wouldn't be proud to be a member of.

What is this concept of pride?

I think it has to do with what the person or organization stands for. What are it's positions on issues of importance. How are these stands and positions regarded?

Pride is not the same thing as popularity or likability. It has more to do with respect and honor. Is Unitarian Universalism an honorable church worthy of respect?


  1. Interesting article. Keep them up on evaluation.

    I think you need to deconstruct the indicator of pride. It probably has to do with investment and identity. The more a person is invested in an organization and the more they identify with it the more proud they are.

    It is interesting that Americans now days are more identified with the sport teams they are fans of than their church. Sports have become the new secular american religion at least in terms of identificaton and pride.

    We also talk about "school pride", "corporate pride", and national "pride".

    What does it mean to be proud that one is a Unitarian Universalist? What about being a Unitarian Universalist would make one proud?

    I am grateful for anyone's ideas here.

    Thanks for the great article. It has really got me thinking.

  2. One UU church I went to debated for 3 or 4 years whether they wanted to be a Welcoming Congregation. There big fear was that everyone in town would think they were that "gay church", and they worried that it would be bad for their reputation.

    They did go through the study process and became a "Welcoming Church" but never advertised the fact or did anything to engender community recogntion and acknowledgement. I don't think there was much or any pride in their achievement of this certification. Interestingly this church is dying out because they haven't found anything else to be proud of which is worthy of attracting new members.

  3. Thanks for using that photo of a Madison WI pride parade! I'm in that photo & bought the SSL banner myself, which hangs in a hallway at James Reeb UU Congregation, where I work. I'm a member at First Unitarian
    I am sometimes 4 and sometimes 5, but we really do need to use a word other than "pride."
    Religion comes up a lot in conversations I have with people. I always say, "I'm a UU, a Unitarian Universalist" and then answer questions, if there are any. I'm also fascinated by other religions, so ask questions myself.

  4. 5: I am a very proud UU, and a member of a welcoming, growing congregation. I actively promote the 7 Principles, even to non-UUs, because I think they are a path to making a better world.

  5. Materialsojourn:

    Thanks for your comment. I like your blog. How come you haven't posted in a while?

    What's your email address so I can write to you?

    Mine is david@davidgmarkham.com.

    Thanks again,

    David Markham

  6. I haven't posted because I am a bad blogger. I am trying, though. I just need to find a voice for the project.

    I'll email you tomorrow.