ABOUT ~ “What inspires you? What would you change?”

Photo on 2014-03-29 at 18.55 #2

Dear READER,

This site is the result of a survey and research project undertaken in the winter of 2013, to gather feedback about the Sunday service from Unification Church members in various parts of the world. I asked only one question: “What is the format of your service, what inspires you,  and what would you change if you could?” and the content before you is what came back to me in response.

This was a grassroots survey that focused primarily on people who are not in leadership positions. After first contacting women around my own age (60-ish), I started asking their husbands, and then finally 2nd gen ~ beginning with my daughter and her friends.  All told, 350 people responded, the majority of them in their mid-twenties or in the 50-plus age group. As most respondents thanked me for asking, I named it the ‘thankyou4asking!‘ project.

COMMON THREADS ~There were 5 major threads that appeared in this survey ~  topics that were mentioned by the majority of respondents, either as existing features or recommended changes. Each thread has its own page, where sample comments on the topic have been gathered from throughout the responses (see the drop-down menu above).  The threads include:

  1. THE SERVICE ~goal and format
  2. THE SERMON~ length and content
  3. WORSHIPPING GOD ~ through Music, Praise, and Prayer
  4. COMMUNITY BUILDING~ through Testimony, Fellowship, Member Care, and Contribution
  5. THE 2ND GEN~ Listening to and Inspiring them, and giving them more responsibility.
  6. There were several reports in the responses about small group activities, so I made Small Group a sixth thread, as our community is beginning to move in that direction, and it might be helpful to know what people have been doing.

Best Practices: The many suggestions found in the responses to this survey may stimulate new ideas. But even better are the those good ideas already being implemented.  Success is a great teacher.  This section outlines activities that are working well in various Unificationist Sunday services. If you have a best practice that you’d like to share, please add it to the comments there.

Discussions: Among the main points brought up by survey respondents, there were several questions being frequently discussed:

1. THE SERVICE~ is it GUEST FRIENDLY? and should it be?

2. CHURCH OR MOVEMENT~ which are we?

3. GENDER EQUALITY AND THE ERA OF WOMAN ~What role do women have in our community, and in the Principle itself, and how can we achieve gender equality?

To see what people had to say, and to add your thoughts, please go to the drop-down menu above. There is also some discussion on the survey results in the Applied Unificationist Blog article.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a page dedicated to the results of the survey and some conclusions, but most people don’t get that far, so the key points are offered here.

-Nearly 25% of those surveyed do not attend a Unification service, and have distanced themselves or dropped out entirely.

-70% of those who said they attend a service on a regular basis said they do so out of a sense of duty or for social reasons, not for the service itself.

-The majority of 2nd gen respondents said that most of their 2nd gen friends are not interested and do not attend a Unification service. Of those 2nd gen who do attend, many said they are searching for more open and honest discussion, more practical application, and more youth leadership.

I hope you will take the time to read through some of the responses that follow. They are honest, insightful, and sometimes very moving in their sincerity to make a positive contribution. Taken all together they comprise an important resource for anyone interested in being part of the change that a majority of Unificationists are looking for.

For newcomers to the site, my suggestion is to start with the last group of responses, 301-350, as they are predominantly from 2nd gen members with a lot to say about the topic. There are also links to inspiring projects and websites that were shared by survey respondents, as well as a Powerpoint presentation that anyone is welcome to add to or use.

Thank you for visiting this website, and for any comments you leave. It’s a pleasure to share it with you.

Robin Debacker

March, 2014

38 thoughts on “ABOUT ~ “What inspires you? What would you change?”

  1. Thank you Robin for compiling all the information you received from so many people. This is an amazing amount of data. I cannot imagine how many hours it took you to put it in this nice format.
    Thank you also for your generous heart and your courageous initiative. The truth is no one asked before what the personal opinions and the suggestions for change were.
    May all this be a topic of discussion and a springboard for change and improvement!

  2. Dear Mrs. Robin Debacker:
    Thank you for your great investment, hard work, and professional contribution to understanding the current situation. Yours is a snapshot in time providing a very insightful and educational study. Also, I sure liked the color theme and overall layout of your site. Well done!
    All the best,
    Respectfully yours,
    Mike Yakawich

  3. Wow, Robin, this turned into a major project. Kudos to you! Any ideas about what you are going to do with the results?

  4. OMG!!! Robin, really??? You did all this? A bit more, and you could make a doctors disertation here. I am shocked just from the amount of information here. I will need to dedicate the whole day or two to read it all. I am so proud of you!! Thank you for not giving up! You are my inspiration. Loves and hugs, Kristina

  5. Dear Robin-What a great work you have assembled here! Thank you for investing so much time and effort and love into this. As someone who occasionally finds myself in a position to educate in Africa, reading these responses will surely help to understand better the feelings and ideas of our members worldwide. Thank you once again.

  6. One thing that transcends a particular style of service or method of outreach, is becoming living examples of our beliefs. Granted, that is challenging, but if we get THAT right we can get more “buy in.” (Including from our own children.) I would also say that good music (emphasis on “good”) is very important. This may sound harsh, but Mark Twain once said, “Hell is a place where everyone is an amateur musician.” Ouch!

    • Hi David,
      Just this morning i was thinking along the same line: namely about the importance of the emphasis on good. I believe that is why Rev. Joel Osteen’s ministry is so successful. He has the biggest church in the US, I bet we could learn something from him.
      Everyone can play their note well, so to speak, when they are in their passion. When we love what we do–and that includes a very wide range from playing/composing/directing music, as you do, having a surfing club in CA, or a knitting club, a book club, a blog about any interesting theme, an energy healing modality practice as I have…–it is endless. Everyone needs to be in their elements. Sir Ken Robinson wrote a book entitled “The Element” that is exactly about this topic.
      We have to go beyond the confines of the church, into the realms of the passion and talent coming from the heart so that joy –the purpose of creation– can be expressed in a multitude of ways. This is what will make us attractive and a magnet for others to join in.
      Unless there are sparks flying, there will be little or no points of attraction.

  7. Dear Robin. Thank you for asking and giving ordinary members a chance to say what they think. I think this must be a first in our spiritual community. I hope the people who should listen do listen.

  8. Hello Robin,
    not sure how long you’ve been in Belgium, but welcome to Europe from one American to another! I’ve skimmed over some of the content and will go back to read more, but it is a very worthy effort on your part and I hope that many people will gain from reading and sharing the blog. May God bless and use your investment of heart!
    kind regards

  9. I am so inspired! Thank you for this incredible effort! Now, we must take charge, be the living example and make the investment – and the changes – we need to make. This survey can offer some great direction. Thank you very much.

  10. I think this is a good survey… .. good luck…. i may not have any intelegnt things to say …. but i hope you reach your goals and inspire more and more people…. and eventually make God And True Parents happy….

  11. Sister Robin, We Love you! and we bless you family in God and True parents’ Names,
    I am speechless!. This is an amazing creativity and great inspiration from heaven .
    Our blessed family have mountains of questions to ask. But who will answer to us??.
    I cry when i think about the Great efforts of President Hyung Jin Nim and his wife, going almost all over the States to meet, listen, talk to members and give the better response possible to the billions of questions since the church was created ( maybe). I hope this log will continue to provides a ground for sharing and growing our faith in God and True parents.
    I will to take few time in meditation and prayer before i ask very critical questions.
    Thank you so much for your time offering to God , True parents and to our families.
    Blessed be the Rock of our Salvation. Aju!.
    Bienvenu Mbobile

  12. Wow, Robin! This is an amazing project-much bigger than I expected. I so hope that this will reach many members and inspire us to make changes where they are necessary!
    Thank you!

  13. Very well done! Thank you for doing it and i hope you will have an other project like that soon and continue to inspire people and let people inspire one another ! :)

  14. The most important people attending a Sunday service are the newcomers. The message should be focased on them. Then they will come back and bring others with them.

  15. Dear Robin…thank you for your initiative…keep on with the good work and path to spiritual development…love and warm greetings to the family…

  16. What a lovely and considerate effort! It is an inspiration to see how many people cared about this subject and all of the creativity that was expressed. The challenge is how to digest and absorb it to improve what we are doing locally. It’s a bit overwhelming, but SO inspiring to hear the voices of brothers and sisters in our global family around the world. Thanks to you, Robin! C’est FORMIDABLE! I believe our Church Council will make good use of this especially as we are transitioning to a new pastor here in Dallas, Texas.

  17. I read your article posted to appliedunificationism.com. I’m very impressed with your effort and plan to bring more attention to it. Old habits die hard. Not to say that we don’t need tradition and established values. So, the question how to diagnose the problem and fix it. I’d suggest employing a dual strategy of old school and innovation. In other words, two kinds of churches that would stand side by side. Both types would strive to achieve the unity of whole and individual purposes. Let it is be a friendly competition. Members would be free to attend either one or the other of the two churches. One church would be … monarchic and the other church … parliamentary. Afterwards take a survey of relative satisfaction with the two types of religious services.

    • Hi Robert, thanks for commenting. I hope you do have time to get into the responses first-hand. There’s a lot to read, but it may give you some ideas about how you can make improvements locally.

  18. Hi, Robin – great to see this! I am happy to report that the serviced at The New Hope Family Church in Maryland is barely plagued by most of the issues your respondents mentioned. We have been working on that service for at least 10 years, and by now it is fulfilling to most who attend, and a surprise to those who come by after staying away for awhile. A number of years ago, the District Pastor at the time turned the management of the service over to a next-gen leader, and then last year we welcomed a next-gen pastor. As well, we have focused on at least a “guest-sensitive” service.

    The results have been dramatic. Most report genuine spiritual nourishment, next-gen participation is up (most of those who produce the service and play in the band are under 30) and guests are routinely welcomed and often return.

    I am proud of what has been accomplished in Maryland – drop by and see us sometime!

  19. Thanks for another excellent post. Where else may anyone get that type of info in such a perfect means of writing?

    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for
    such info.

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