Behave…Yourself

behave yourselfI hear these laments all the time.

“We can’t get young adults to join our congregation.”

“We have a congregational covenant, but there still seems to be a lot of conflict around here.”

“I can’t get anyone to serve on the Board of Trustees.”

“Our fund drive came up short again. No one wants to talk about money.”

These are some of the realities of congregational life. In their struggle to deal with them, leaders often ask the question, “How can I get people to change their behavior?” The answer, many of us think, comes down to more information and changing attitudes. We reason that if we can just give people the right information; if we can get them to think differently, then they’ll come and visit, they’ll readily volunteer, they’ll get along, they’ll contribute generously.

Well, social scientist Jeni Cross, sociology professor at Colorado State University, tells us that this reasoning is incorrect. She debunks two of the myths of behavior change, that education changes people’s behavior and that in order to change behavior, you have to change people’s attitudes. Instead, Cross contends, the most effective way to change behavior is to change behavioral expectations or to reinforce existing social norms. To put it simply, people are more likely to change their behavior if they see others doing it.

So, for example, if you want people to be more ecologically responsive, you won’t get them to do it by appealing to the need to save the planet. They’ll be more likely to respond if you display an ad showing George Clooney or Katy Perry tossing a plastic water bottle in a recycling can. If people are going to toss a dollar bill into the guitar case of a street musician, they are more likely to do so if they see other people doing it. We are more likely to change our behavior if we see that it is part of the social norms in the context of that situation.

In our efforts, then, as leaders in our congregations, it is not enough to just provide information. It is not enough to inspire and challenge and motivate potential and current members so as to change their attitudes towards the congregation and Unitarian Universalism in general. We need to do more. We need to change the expectations of their behavior. We need to create new social norms.We need to change the culture so that people respond because they see everyone else doing it.

So how do we do that? Hey, I’m not saying this is easy. But here are some things you can try in response to the lamentations I listed above. What they all have in common is that they are intended to demonstrate or reinforce expected behavior rather than relying on information or inspiration to get people motivated.

 

Can’t get young adults to join…or even to visit?

  • Post pictures of young adults on the home page of your website engaging in various activities related to congregational life.
  • Include one or two quotes from young adults on your website talking about life as a member of your congregation.
  • Encourage young adults to serve as greeters. Nothing is more impressive to a young adult visitor than walking into the building and being greeted by a young adult.

Got conflict?

  • Make it a practice to read your covenant at every Board and committee meeting and every other event at which members congregate (of course, make sure the covenant is short enough so that you’re not taking half the meeting reading it).
  • Look for fellow members who are living out the covenant and publicly and privately thank them for doing so.
  • Publish a story in each issue of your newsletter profiling a member who embodies the tenets of the congregational covenant.

No volunteers for the Board?

  • Publish a list of all past Presidents in the history of the congregation. Let your congregation see what a distinguished list of leaders it represents.
  • Ask current and past Board members to talk about their positive experiences in service. Either publish their comments in your newsletter or ask them to do a testimonial during a worship service.
  • At least twice a year, during a worship service, ask all members of the congregation who are in volunteer positions (any position) to rise. Chances are it will be a very large majority of those in attendance. You and the members of the congregation will see that serving others is more of a social norm than you might think.

Need to fill up the coffers?

  • Ask people to give live and written testimonials on why they give and how the congregation makes a difference in their lives.
  • Publicly acknowledge people who do pledge during the fund drive, with a ribbon that they can attach to their nametag (I PLEDGED FOR (CONGREGATION)) or by putting their names on a display that is shown prominently in the lobby for all to see.
  • Throughout the fund drive, continuously make the congregation aware of how many people and what percentage of the congregation has already pledged. You want members to see that pledging is the norm. Everybody’s doing it, so why not you?
  • Consider a “Pledge Sunday” where all members of the congregation are asked to step forward and drop their pledge in a ceremonial basket as part of the worship service.

None of these strategies is a quick fix. Effecting behavior change means changing the culture, and changing the culture takes time. Our congregations are not speed boats. We are more like big ocean liners and it takes a lot more time and effort to turn an ocean liner than a speed boat. So, we need to continue informing and educating. We need to continue inspiring and challenging. But we also need to be demonstrating and encouraging and reinforcing positive behavior. And where do we begin? With you, leader. Behave…Yourself.

 

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mark bernsteinMark Bernstein is Congregational Life Staff with the Central East Regional Group. He always behaves himself and has never been on either a speed boat or a big ocean liner.

Become an Outreach Beta-Tester

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-beta-image8735071We’re looking for a few brave Unitarian Universalist congregations for a little project – and by little, I mean potentially transformative for the future of our faith movement (not to oversell it or anything). Intrigued? Then you might want to join our team of beta-testers for the UUA’s new outreach efforts.

 

In the Spring issue of the UU World magazine, Rev. Terasa Cooley explained the new branding and outreach efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Recognizing the shifting landscape of religion in America, religious leaders of all kinds have realized it’s not enough to preach to the choir anymore. For the UUA, outreach started with a new look and feel, including an updated logo and some better ways of explaining what is so powerful about our faith to those who aren’t already “in the know.” A study guide has also been in the works, which will be made available to the beta-testers. These outreach efforts have uncovered some invaluable insights about our faith and its potential to reach new audiences, but much of this potential still remains in theory. It’s time to take the next step and to put that theory it into practice.

 

Over the next six months our beta-testers will explore how the UUA’s new outreach approaches can help congregations learn about the signals they send off, find their niche in their community, and represent an emerging shared identity of the wider faith. And the exciting part is… we don’t know exactly how this will turn out. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some pretty good guesses, but the truth is that our beta-testers will be co-creating, playing, discovering and experimenting with us to figure out how to leverage the key insights of the UUA’s outreach efforts to grow our faith and its impact in the world.

 

Click here to sign up to become a beta tester congregation. Beta-testers will attend a kick-off webinar at the end of the summer, receive a three-session study guide and get connected to other beta testers to form a learning circle. Congregations will learn about the UUA’s branding and outreach efforts and then identify one area of their congregation to apply those outreach strategies. Any UU congregations (or other UU groups, if you’re interested!) are welcome to join, as long as they can commit to the process.

 

Join us in the lab of faithful experimentation! For questions, email outreach@uua.org.

 

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cmcdonald_headshotCarey McDonald is the new UUA Director of Outreach starting July 1, 2014. The Growth Office could not be more excited to be working with him in this new way! 

Flipped: Hybrid Leadership Training

H-UULTI GRAPHIC with new uua logo and colorsLay leadership in a UU congregation can be a lonely journey.  Often leaders have to find their own way through the maze of challenges and obstacles that confront those who are out front and in charge.  But leaders don’t have to go it alone.  Both regionally and nationally, UUA staff are developing innovative ways to get leaders the information, inspiration and skill building they need to be successful in their roles.

One such effort in the Central East Region is H-UULTI, a year round community for leaders.  A brainchild of the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Leadership Development Consultant for CERG (Central East Regional Group), this comprehensive program includes online seminars, on-demand resources, virtual peer learning groups (called Process Circles) and local on-site in-person get-togethers (known as Communities of Practice.)  This combination of virtual and in person experiential learning results in a “flipped classroom” experience where participants learn online and then share their learning in person with other Unitarian Universalist leaders.

2014-02-08 10.22.11

This fall, H-UULTI (which stands for Hybrid – Unitarian Universalist Leadership Training Institute) will offer a variety of courses facilitated by experienced regional staff.  Courses include Healthy Leadership, Leading Change, Trends in American Religion, UU Identity, Theological Plurality and Marketing and Communication, among others.  The goal of H-UULTI is to help liberal religious leaders deepen connections, grow innovations and enhance their communities’ impact on the world.  And, with H-UULTI, leaders don’t have to do this alone.

For more information about H-UULTI, and to register, follow this link: http://www.cerguua.org/HUULTI/

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mark bernsteinMark Bernstein is the Regional Consultant for Growth Development with the Central East Regional Group. He never likes to go it alone and believes that the H-UULTI Leadership School will transform the world as we currently know it.  He is also not prone to exaggeration.

CERG offers many excellent growth resources. Please check them out! Thank you, Mark, for so generously serving our faith.

Perhaps the Most Important Bridging Step

SynergyIt’s the season of Bridging Ceremonies.  Bridging is the milestone launching youth in (young) adulthood.

One of the most important things we can do for our youth is to support them into adulthood, to keep them connected to Unitarian Universalism, and continue to minister to them as they become adults. Resources for Bridging from Youth to Young Adulthood can help you succeed in this ministry. There’s a Bridging: A Handbook for Congregations by Gail Forsyth-Vail and Jessica York. A Bridging Handbookway to find new young adults who have moved to your area is through Bridge Connections, which is an information Hub of who is transferring where.

I randomly called 10 congregations and asked if they offer membership to youth when they become adults either when they turn 18 or at the congregation’s Bridging Ceremony.  The 10th call affirmed that they did. The ones prior to that did not. I stopped my survey there, because of the despair.  Really?!  I think I found one of our leaks!

It’s personal for me, because I have young adults in my family. One of them is Bridging in June, both at our home congregation and at the General Assembly Synergy Worship Service.

My son’s awesome youth advisor asked me for suggestions for his Bridging gift.  He already has UU swag. He has a couple Layout 1chalices.  He has a chalice necklace.  He has plenty of books (many swiped from my library.)  Standing on the Side of Love wear is part of his wardrobe.  You know what I want him to have when he launches?  An enthusiastic invitation to full membership into our congregation.  I want a UUWorld subscription* to follow him to his next residence and the knowledge that even though he is going to be “away” for some years, his home congregations anchors him, is there for him.  I want our congregation to send him a card or care package every so often.  Or to check in periodically so an update can be posted in the congregational newsletter or pastoral care e-blast.

I want that for my child. I want that for all our newly launched adults.

 

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*A note about UU World subscriptions.  Every household that has a UU member gets a subscription to this fine magazine, IF their name and contact information is passed on to the UUA. When someone moves from a UU household (i.e. young adults who may move away to the military, a job, school) they can receive the UU World if they are a member of a congregation and their contact information is updated.  Or that congregation can simply buy them a year’s subscription.

When I’ve explained this to congregations I sometimes get push back with how difficult it is to keep addresses updated.  Yes. Religious community, striving toward wholeness and inclusivity is mighty hard, and sometimes tedious work.  And it matters. Surely someone in your congregation will see this as the ministry it is.

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Tandi Headshot GARev. Tandi Rogers wonders — what if this is the year. What if there is an unexplainable, joyful spike in membership due to us actually inviting our Bridgers into full congregational membership?

 

Restorative Circles

I love circles.  They are my favorite shape, with spirals coming in a close second.  I write important notes on circle-shaped paper.

I also love community. And strong, healthy community can often be found in circles.  Restoration can be found in circles.

The San Francisco Unified School District created a manual with the Center for Restorative Processes:  Teaching  Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles, which I highly recommend to you.  For two reasons:

  1. Although this manual was written for youth, consider what your congregation could be like if the adults participated in such circles. (If you really want your mind blown, imagine a new congregation planted using these circles! UU Community of Restoration…)
  2. Let it sink in that many of our youth and young adults participate in such programs at school and in other venues. They often come to our congregations equipped with mad skills that older adults didn’t have access to growing up.  But we can if we turn to our youth and young adults to teach us and lead us.  Make way for these gifts to be given and received.

The manual explains “Restorative Practices build community and can help set things right when the integrity of the community is challenged by harmful behaviors.”  Who doesn’t want that in our religious communities? Now, the manual was written for school classrooms.  It needs translation.  If you are at all interested in translating this manual (and other such resources) into an explicitly Unitarian Universalist resource, please let me know: trogers@uua.org!

Circle Guidelines

Page 16 of the manual unpacks these guidelines.

Couldn’t your religious community use some restoration? Some tools for hard conversations?  Counter-intuitively, I get excited when a hard, authentic conversation is about to be had, because if we remain open to that potential transformation, deep faith formation will happen. Please, go there.  Release that power.

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Circle NoteGrowth Strategist Rev. Tandi Rogers now has Harry Chapin’s song All My Life’s a Circle playing in her head. And she doesn’t mind.

 

 

 

Making Unitarian Universalism Facebook-Legit

According to Susanne Skubik Intriligator, UUA’s Online Strategist, when enough people indicate an interest in a topic, Facebook generates an “interest” page for that topic and populates it with Wikipedia content. Right now, there’s a Facebook interest page called “Unitarian Universalism” that describes our religion. It’s unowned, and is liked by 23,000 people. (Linked with similar “Unitarian Universalist” page).

UU FB

You can help that page be a real page, linked to a real UU religious organization.

Why does this matter to the growth?   It’s important because it gives people a link, from an unaffiliated Wikipedia-filled FB page to the actual UUA feed. It’s not instructive. It’s not about institutional control. It gives the general public more direct information about how to learn more about our movement.  And guess what?  You can add to it!

Are you ready and willing to give it a try?

 

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Laughing Tandi for DialogRev. Tandi Rogers wants people who are seeking communities of progressive, covenantal faith to call home or to call partner to find us.  Most any means necessary.  The more creative and collaborative, the better.

 

Clusters: Doing Church in the 21st Century

google iconsAs we advance deeper in to it, what will it mean to “do church in the 21st Century.”  After years of being in silos of our own making, actually in opposition to the suggestions in the Cambridge Platform, we have such great potential to impact each other and our communities when we work together and see ourselves as one.  This means blurring the lines of our traditional congregational and geographical borders to share resources, work together and increase our presence and impact to each other and the communities we serve.

Below you will find some general ideas for discussion, please insert your geographical area designation. Understanding there are some more rural congregations than others, it is just a starting point for possibilities.

 

Level One Cooperation

 

Have Yearly Board Kickoffs That Include: 

  • Shared Orientation and Training – What do Boards do and how do they do it, including sharing congregational information and what can be learned from each other and leadership training that includes conflict and change management
  • Serving with Grace – Learning how to make leadership a spiritual practice
  • Social time – Time for congregational leaders to form informal links

 

Share Cluster Calendaring/Meetings/Gatherings

  • Sharing Calendars – in order to inform and support each other in our efforts – Too often we double book things, not entirely unavoidable, but certainly more foreseeable.
  • Cluster Social Events – Designed to bring UU congregations together to cross borders and create joy, opportunities for connection
  • Committee Leaders Meeting by Function – To brainstorm, share ideas and best practices. – Membership, Social Justice, Fund Raising, others
  • Regular meetings of professional staff by category such as Administrators, DRE’s, Music Directors and the like – To brainstorm, share ideas and best practices
  • Cluster Workshops, Activities and Events – Music events such as combined Choir Concerts (such as Sources Cantata), Seminary for A Day, co-sponsored speakers, Worship Retreats

 

Level Two Cooperation

 

  • Shared Purchasing – cleaning supplies to insurance, could we find better deals?
  • Shared Website Hosting – Maybe use one vendor and one shared webmaster.
  • Shared Custodial Services
  • Faith Formation in the 21st Century – Creating shared content for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Weebly, and other electronic and New Media

 

Level Three Cooperation

 

  • Shared Cluster Staff – These positions could be housed in one of our larger congregations (or maybe not) and the ratio of pay and the hours of each position would vary, but the intent would be for them to assist with cluster-wide efforts and to support individual congregational efforts as well.
    • Social Justice Coordinators
    • Young Adult and Campus Ministry
    • Marketing/Outreach/PR
    • BOOKKEEPERS

 

Level Four Cooperation

 

  • Ministerial Specialization – A certain percentage of minister’s time would be spent in other congregations. In other words, in addition to or instead of shared cluster staff, there would be a minister that would help coordinate all the cluster social justice efforts or pastoral care for example.

 

Level Five Cooperation

 

Legal and official cooperation - Budgets of the congregations would be shared to support a broader perspective of what congregation means. Examples could include:

  • Ministers who serve more than one congregation
  • Preaching in more than one place each month
  • Providing support and expertise in many ways to area congregations
  • Looking at staffing differently/centralizing efforts in one place or another.

That could possibly lead to The Unitarian Universalists of [fill in the blank] County – North, South East and West Campus with one ministry staff led by a senior minister or ministerial leadership team and one board.

 

Rev. David A. Miller and Rev. Tera Little will be facilitating workshop on “Doing Church in the 21st Century” based on this information at General Assembly on Thursday, June 26 12:30-1:45 pm Eastern (RICC West Lobby.)

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David Miller for blogThe Reverend David A. Miller is the minster of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach, California.  Reverend Miller is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology receiving a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in Social Transformation.

Before entering the ministry, Reverend Miller had over 25 years of management, marketing, business development and fund-raising experience with both private sector and non-profit organizations.  He has also been a trainer and consultant specializing in working with organizations on building organizational capacity, and strategically integrating marketing, communications and relationship development.

He serves Unitarian Universalism as a Member of the Pacific Southwest District’s Ministerial Transitions Team, a National Advisory Team member for the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign, as a mentor in the PSWD In-Care Program and district consultant for congregation boards.

 

 

These days, a picture is worth more than 1,000 words

LovestatehouseUUSC“The web is going visual.” If you follow media trends at all, then you’ve heard this refrain again and again over the last few years: “It’s all about the visuals.”

And you’ve seen it happening, on your favorite websites. As visually-based platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vine grow and grow – right along with our ability to capture and share images instantly – the social web is flooded with competing visual content.

According to Buzzfeed, every minute web users are:

  • Uploading 208,300 photos to Facebook
  • Liking 510,000 photos on Instagram
  • Uploading 100 hours of video to YouTube

Why? Because we humans like it. Psychological research shows that human brains process images 60,000 times faster than text, and we SanJoseHeartsremember information presented visually far more accurately.

Moreover, giving people what they like works – web users interact with visuals at much higher rates. According to Jessica Gioglio, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, “Posts with an album or photo drive up to 180% more engagement than those without, and viewers spend 100% more time on web pages with videos.”

What does it mean for UUs?

If we want people to hear our life-giving message, we need to learn to compete within these visual media. We need to cooperate strategically, in order to collect and curate and share our most compelling images, so that more people can see our life-giving message in action.

Does your congregation’s (or UU organization’s) website feature vibrant images? Does it show smiling, diverse UUs of all ages in action – worshiping, learning, singing, hugging, marching, and having fun?

BedfordFB

How about your Facebook page – are you sharing great new images at least weekly?

Do you have a robust photo permissions policy in place that allows you to share great photos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more?

Share and share alike

As Online Strategist for the UUA, I’ve been encouraging UUA departments to reassess their approach to image-sharing. Now I’m hoping to foment a movement-wide change, in three parts:

  1. Ask congregations and UU organizations to adopt a permissions policy that allows for sharing by all UU organizations, such as shown in this suggested form.
  2. Collect images in Flickr groups open to all UU organizations.
  3. Run monthly photo contests that
  • build up our common photo resourceskids planting at ASC Boston
  • get UUs across the country voting (and talking/sharing about favorites) online
  • reward images that best capture our UU take on themes such as Faith Development, Courageous Love, Forgiveness, and the Meaning of Life.

You can help

With a little creative thinking, we can meet the challenge of the visual web together.  Please ask your congregation to consider this new permissions policy, then take photos and share to our UUA Flickr group. And be sure to enter or vote on this month’s photo contest.

Our congregations are chock-full of both interesting people doing interesting things and willing photo-snappers and –sharers.  If we can get them together and get those images online, we’ll be showing our message to the world.  And growing our influence.

 

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SusannePhotoA former editor at Ms. magazine and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Susanne Skubik Intriligator has served as the UUA’s Online Strategist since September 2013. Her experimental position comes to an end after GA 2014, and then she’ll get back to completing her PhD dissertation in digital media, parenting her three kids, and helping out at the local Unitarian congregation she helped to found. She lives in Bangor, Wales. Contact her at wonder@post.harvard.edu

Growing and Evolving: Ten Years of Religious Education Credentialing

Sara Cloe CREETen years ago on this very day, the Religious Education Credentialing Committee (RECC) conducted its first interviews and awarded credentialed status to three pioneering candidates in the Religious Education Credentialing Program (RECP)! Helen Bishop and Gaia Brown were credentialed at what is now called the Master Level, and Michelle Richards at the (now) Credentialed Level. (Michelle went on to receive Master Level status in 2013.)

 

Think about it – how many programs from a decade ago are still around today? The RECP’s staying power has depended on our ability to keep the program fresh, relevant, and useful. Over the years, it has adapted and evolved in order to meet the changing needs of professionals and congregations, to better assure the quality and consistency of the evaluation process, and to improve the experience of both the candidate and the Committee. This spring, the RECC will consider what’s changing in faith formation, in Unitarian Universalism, and in the professional world – and then reflect on how to respond to those changes through updates to program content, structure, and expectations.

 

As the program has grown, what hasn’t changed is its commitment to fostering excellence in professional religious education leadership. The Religious Education Credentialing Program was established, back in the early 00’s, in order to nurture the call to religious education as a profession, to provide a comprehensive path for professional development, and to articulate and uphold professional standards and guidelines. It remains true to these purposes.

 

The Religious Education Credentialing Program offers a rigorous, meaning-filled process by which religious educators deepen their knowledge, reflect on their own faith development, and demonstrate their skill across competency areas deemed critical for effective religious education leadership. Our Credentialed Religious Educators aren’t the only ones gaining from the program, however! Through the RECP, religious educators become stronger staff teammates and collegial partners in their own congregations, as well as educators and modelers for colleagues in other congregations – thus their program participation benefits many other professionals. And the profession, as a whole, has been elevated because of the program’s intentionality in identifying competencies and establishing standards.

 

Ultimately, what matters most? Not the religious educators. Not the profession of religious education. No, it’s about the children and adults who have stayed better connected to their congregations, and whose faith has been further formed, because of religious educators who attended to their own professional growth by pursuing RE Credentialing. Thus, it’s safe to say that the Religious Education Credentialing Program has enriched the lives of thousands of Unitarian Universalists. Has it touched yours?

 

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Jan Gartner“Well-equipped professionals and healthy staff teams are essential to congregational vitality!” proclaims Jan Gartner, who began serving as UUA Professional Development Associate for Religious Education and Music Leaders in July 2011. Jan oversees the Religious Education Credentialing and Music Leadership Certification Programs, provides support for staff transitions, advocates for sound employment practices, and champions intentional continuing education both for individual professionals and for staff teams.

What Congregations Can Learn From The 12th Man

SeahawksYes, I’ve drunk the electric green and blue Kool-Aid.  I’ve gone belly up to Seahawks mania out here in the Pacific Northwest.  And while the pronoun is not my preferred, I am the Seahawk’s12th Man.  And while the metaphor is not perfect, I have come to understand that there is so much congregations can learn from the 12th Man.  I want a congregation full of number 12 jerseys standing in the pews. And if Skittles end up all over the sanctuary carpet, so be it.

 

First of all, Seattle didn’t make up the 12th ManThe concept originated at Texas A&M in 1922. Seattle readily recognize this and the Seahawks will end up paying a breathtaking amount of money to Texas A&M for the use of the title. We made the model ours by adding Seahawk quirk and noise.   We don’t have to be the clever ones to make everything up.  We are fine adapting the best of what works.  Congregations, take note about the adapting other ideas, but don’t get caught up in lawsuits over it.

 

In this metaphor I’m thinking of the 12th Man as the congregational members.  The board of directors and key volunteers are the players on the field.  The head coach is the minister. Specialized coaches are other key staff.  Work with me here.  It’s not perfect, but don’t get hung up on that or you’ll miss the lessons.

 

  • Our job as 12 is to cheer our team on and create a vibrant, buzzy culture where success can flourish.
  • We do not assume we know more about football than the players and coaches who have been practicing and preparing and have special training.
  • We do not jump to the conclusion that because our tax dollars and our ticket fees help play for the coaches and players salaries we should get to vote on the plays.
  • We do not email the players with suggestions on how to play. We are not Armchair Quarterbacks. That is not our job.  We cheer.  We make a joyful, booming noise.
  • We do not pout at the coach’s choice of plays and suggest to the other 12th Men around us that we could do a better job at coaching.
  • We do not run on the field.  Even if we tried out for the team and were not picked this round.
  • If our team is down and the strategies seem unclear from our view in the stands, we do not throw our water bottles on the field.  We do not boo.
  • We do not call our beloved #25 a “thug” because of impassioned outbursts that don’t hurt anybody. We know there is so much more to #25, and we stand by him.
  • Texas A&M’s 12th Man example taught us, we stand for the game, symbolically ready for coach to put us in. We stand ready to serve if called upon. And until that time comes, we cheer until we are hoarse and our face hurts from smiling.  We shout and whoop to make sure our coach and team knows we’re right behind them through thick and thin.

 

I want that culture in our congregations, too.  I don’t even like football, but I’ll wear the #12 and shout for my team, because in the Pacific NW it’s become less about a sport and more about a unified community.  We are all the 12th Man, whether you’re wearing a silk Seahawk tie or your earplugs are neon green or the number 12 is drawn in the mud on your truck.  The 12 is about coming together to cheer on something larger than us.  I want that for our faith tradition.

 

So please pay attention to the 12th Man this Sunday during the Super Bowl.  And don’t worry if the Seahawks don’t win the game.  We’ve already won.

 

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Loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium Seahawks-13Rev. Tandi Rogers has enjoyed walking around around Tacoma feeling more connected through the common number 12. Come Sunday afternoon she will be covered in Seahawk bling and making a joyful noise.  On Monday she will be hoarse.  A special thank you to Susan Tusa, former president of Tahoma UU Congregation in Tacoma, WA who helped her write this piece.