Cultural Creatives: Our New Members?

Published on: June 1, 2011

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Every Unity ministry has, in its immediate neighborhood, a large and emerging group of people who share the values taught by Unity. These potential members of your spiritual community compose between 15 and 20 percent of the American population. According to several surveys of religious participation in America, nearly half of their respondents consider a “higher power” to be part of their lives but are religiously unaffiliated. If you could connect with a small fraction of this unaffiliated group who share our values, how large would your congregation be? What programs could you offer? What effect would your ministry have on the attitudes and conversations in your greater community? In Living Water Unity’s case, we estimate over 5,000 of these unaffiliated individuals who share our values reside in our five-mile service area. Our challenge, as with most Unity ministries, is “How do we connect with them?”

Described by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in their book, Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World, the Cultural Creatives (CCs) have been identified by the Unity Identity Project as Unity’s most receptive potential audience. Arising from the activist movements of the 60’s and 70’s—the human/civil rights, feminists and environmental movements and their associated groups—the CCs share a set of common values (see sidebar). While few CCs can claim to have been involved in those movements, most CCs trace the development of their values to the influence those movements have had on them. Engaging the CCs in our ministries does not require we change who we are or what we teach. We just need to let them know we share their values!

Ray and Anderson emphasize that the demographic profile of the CCs closely mirrors the U.S. population, with the exception of education; CCs tend to be better educated than the population in general. Notice that the values shown in the sidebar match what most Unity ministers teach of personal empowerment and social responsibility. You can likely identify many people in your ministry that embody these values. Understanding the motivations and decision criteria used by the CCs will provide insight into what to offer and how to structure your programs. You enhance your programs for those already present and ease the introduction and integration of the CCs into your community.

Perhaps your ministry already has:

• small group programs oriented to building communities of like-minded individuals,
• social action programs focused on the environment and community programs,
• volunteer opportunities within the greater community for people to express their passions,
• integrated series of classes to enhance people’s understanding of their connection with the Divine and with each other,
• positive, open and inclusive teachings with which many people can identify, and
• an emphasis on personal empowerment and responsibility.

If not, these are important to consider as your development team focuses the efforts and resources of your ministry.

As we embrace our new Unity identity, we also have the opportunity to share our successful experiences as we attract the CCs to our ministries. Email me with your questions and descriptions of your successful programs and activities at [email protected] A follow-up article will draw upon your feedback.

Find a synopsis of Unity-relevant characteristics of the CCs in Ray and Anderson’s book. You may add your comments or relevant quotes from the book in the comments below so we all may be blessed by your insights.

How many of these values do you share with the CCs?

o Love of nature and deep caring about its preservation and natural balance
o Desire to see more action on the planet-wide issues of global warming, poverty and overpopulation
o Active in supporting important causes
o Willing to pay higher taxes or spend more money for goods if that money goes to improving the environment
o Heavy emphasis on the importance of developing and maintaining relationships
o Heavy emphasis on the importance of helping others and developing their unique gifts
o Volunteer with one or more good causes
o Intense interest in spiritual and psychological development
o See spirituality as an important aspect of life but worry about religious fundamentalism
o Desire equity for women/men in business, life and politics, and concern for, and support of, the well-being and freedom of women and children
o Want government to focus more attention and resources on education, community programs and environmental sustainability
o Unhappy with the divisiveness of the political left and right, optimistic about the future
o Want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life
o Concern for how big business generates profits by destroying the environment and exploiting poorer countries and disempowered individuals
o Dislike the emphasis placed on consumerism and “making money”

According to Ray and Anderson, if you share 10 or more of these values, you’re likely a Cultural Creative.

David Ridge

Rev David Ridge is the senior minister at Unity Living Water Spiritual Community, Arvada, Colo. He is also contracted by UWM to work on marketing for Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute and UWM.

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