The Rev. Tandi Rogers wonders how we can reach people when we can't even reach them? We re-post her observation from the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog on the frustration of not being able to connect electronically in the electronic age, and a solution for the problem. –Ed.
This is Your Assignment
One should probably not blog when one’s pet peeves are barking and pulling on their leashes.
I just sent over a hundred emails to congregational leaders based on the contact information given to the UUA by the congregation at the time of certification, and guess what? A huge portion of those emails bounced back to me with all sorts of excuses. “You are not subscribed to this email list.” “I no longer use this email address. Please redirect your email to <this one>.” “User is over quota.” “I have retired and am no longer at this email address.”
Really? So I checked (I was watching the Emmys at the same time) and sure enough, most of those malfunctioning emails listed with the UUA are also listed on the corresponding congregational websites. And no, I couldn’t stop there. Yes, you guessed it. I checked out their membership growth numbers. I didn’t have to. I knew already. These congregations are not growing. How could they be? People can’t get a-hold of leaders. And as I poked around these websites, I found they are predominantly out of date, with places and times of worship services hidden or missing altogether.Oh, my dogs are barking! And my heart is breaking. Our communities of faith save and transform lives and we’re hiding. People are looking for us and we’re failing them. Don’t make me glare at you. Please check the following:
- Front page of your website: full name of your congregation, meeting address (with directions preferably) including city and state, phone (including area code), and the name and contact information of someone people can call with questions.
- Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. Do they have your information correct? What comes up when you search “Unitarian + Universalism + <your town>”? Is that what you want to come up?
- Does your Chamber of Commerce list you in their materials that list religious communities? Area motels and hotels? Your local ecumenical or interfaith group?
- Does Yelp? If your congregation is already listed, what are reviewers saying about you? More and more people are reading Yelp reviews of religious communities to make their choices before they ever grace your doorway.
It really takes a lot to get Tandi in a rage. Obstacles to full access to Beloved Community is near the top of the list. And able-bodied people parking in Handicap Parking Zones. And littering. Don’t do those, please.