In February I launched an experiment on Facebook, The UU Growth Lab, to see if people interested in talking growth might talk more freely using a Facebook group. I had previously had clergy express that they didn’t feel comfortable brainstorming and exploring counter-cultural ideas publicly on blogs. We’re talking the culture of our association and member congregations — the culture, models and practices we need to revise, remove and/or replace in order to move forward as an association of congregations.
Six months after its launch the UU Growth Lab, a “free space and think tank for Unitarian Universalist change agents” has over 700 members and they (not me) have taken the initiative to launch additional topic focused labs.
For Unitarian Universalist leaders wanting to talk about issues ranging from Growth and Social Media to Worship and Evangelism, there’s a lab for that.
Here’s the directory of active labs in order they were launched.
- UU Growth Lab
- UU Social Media Lab
- UU Young Adult Growth Lab
- UU Spirit In Practice Lab
- UU Adult Religious Education
- UU Worship Lab
- UU Evangelists Lab
These are like virtual lounges where people are engaging in active conversation constantly.
What I particularly like is that there are photos attached to those participating (profile images) creating a richer sense of community and connection than a text only email list. People can also “like” posts and comments affirming ideas without needing to write a response. And most importantly, when someone comments on a post, regardless of when it was first written, it moves back to the top of the group’s Facebook stream. This means ideas/conversations people are excited about stay active, while posts of lesser appeal quickly fade away.
The drawbacks? There is no way to catalog all the amazing ideas that are coming up in the lab. Its like a book of 1,001 amazing Unitarian Universalist growth and congregational change ideas unfolding before your eyes and you can’t… keep… up….
But maybe that’s a strength too. I launched the UU Growth Lab for those who wanted a slightly more protected space (not searched by Google) to discuss issues related to moving Unitarian Universalism forward.
You may read more about this UU lab phenomenon in the August 1st UUA Interconnections article by Don Skinner, “Growth and Social Media Labs Engage Leaders.“