Richard Trudeau writes in his book, Universalism 101:
"First, in 1961, when the denominations joined forces, there were a total of 151, 557 adult UUs. Forty years later, there were 156, 968 adult UUs or a net gain of less than four percent. Meanwhile the population of North America went up something like fifty percent, so as a percentage of the population, we actually declined considerably in forty years. To me that's a symptom of a need for renewal." p. 25
UU is losing its market share as the marketers say, and one might wonder at the lack of attractiveness, the loss of vitality, the failure of engagement. In my experience, UU has difficulty not only in attracting new members, but in keeping the members it has. I am a case in point. I have tried to get involved in 4 different UU congregations and failed. I am no longer counted as a member anywhere and yet I write this blog and believe fervently in what UU has to offer. Why the disconnect?
Trudeau goes on to write:
"I interpret the talk about spirituality as a sign of deep seated hunger on the part of members of our congregations, and therefore as symptom of a need for renewal." p.25
Trudeau makes a good point that there is a deep seated hunger for spirituality but there is no coherent response. Not much nurturing going on. People cling to social justice as an external object of meaning, but it inevitably fails because spirituality is not about social justice, per se, but about personal transformation. UU has missed the boat and is flailing around drowning.
Trudeau writes even further:
"I believe a root cause of the spiritual hunger and anti-Christianity can be expressed in the phrase turning away. UUism makes it easy for people to turn away from big religious questions. UUism enables people to turn away from their personal religious pasts. UUism even turns away from its own religious past." p.26
Having turned away from its religious past and turning away from the big religious questions UU has lost its identity, and has not forged a new one palatable with the public. Can the average UU explain his/her faith to an outsider with any degree of coherence and enthusiasm? UUs eschew missionary efforts and proselytising because they don't know what their product is.