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25 Days of Action. Day 1: Get Planning.

Hello, and welcome to the series 25 Days of Action. These 25 days will help get you from “I’d love to have a place to celebrate this one life we have” to “Oh my God! I’m singing Celebration by Kool and the Gang with wonderful people who have baked delicious cakes.”.

The reason for the 25 day limit? Pippa Evans and I (the co-founders of The Sunday Assembly) will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from August 1st (yesterday) to August 25th, and the festival can be distracting.

The Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, complete with its own reality distortion field. With over three million shows (a mild exadge but that’s what it feels like), it is easy to get swept up along and think the Fringe is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. This is something that I want to avoid, because, as we all know, The Sunday Assembly is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD (definitely for sure).

With that in mind each day I’ll write a blogpost about a different aspect of starting a Sunday Assembly. It’s my way of ensuring that the big Fringe machine doesn’t suck me in (“Oh, what review did I get? 3 stars? Critics are all failed actors anyway!!!!!”), and stay focused on helping people across the world start their own godless congregations that celebrate life. The first action I’ll suggest is one that doesn’t feel like action at all: planning.

Now, I’m a rubbish planner (my friends think it hilarious I run an organization) and way more of a do-er but, whenever I don’t plan, my doing really falls by the wayside. Indeed, since launching 40 Dates and 40 Nights: The Roadshow, our campaign to launch 40 Assemblies in 40 Days (read more about it here), I have had to spend so much time doing, that there has been less time to organize the roadshow itself.

Now, the best way to plan is to think about what you want to achieve, and to work back. Well, in order to get the #40Dates Roadshow to your town the first thing you’ll need to do is to get as many people as possible to an Eventbrite group for your town by September 14th. We will then take a tally of all the different groups, and go to the places there is the most interest.

With this as your first goal it is worth thinking about all the different places that you could find people to join in:

  1. Atheist, secular and humanist groups: these are people who are not only non-believers, but are also organizers. They could be a great starting point. We have relationships with CFI, AHA and a few other organizations in the US, the BHA in the UK and they are all really helpful. But, remember, The Sunday Assembly is not your normal A, S or H group. We are a celebration of life, not a celebration of not-believing (and certainly not a place for god bashing).
  2. Non-faith based community groups: The Sunday Assembly is all about community and people who like building communities, will generally like The Sunday Assembly. Ring up sports teams, knitting circles, charities and anyone else who is doing things as a group. You’ll find lots of takers.
  3. Student groups: students love causes that make a difference and are fun. That’s us! Go through a list of the student organizations at your local uni and get in touch.
  4. Contact Newspapers: this will be dealt with more fully in a later blogpost, but let them know that you’re getting an Assembly off the ground.
  5. Target a demographic: do you think soccer moms would like this? Organise a tea morning. Do you think artists would dig this? Ring round some galleries and organize whatever artists like to do.

Point number five makes one thing clear. Just. Reach. Out. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone, do not be afraid of the email, do not be afraid to just talk to people about it. It won’t feel threatening because you are not trying to change anyone’s beliefs, but simply to celebrate life.

You are trying to do something wonderful, important and kind – you will be astounded by how many people are interested. Now, if you are concerned about offending someone (and well done you on caring), here is a good way of opening the conversation: “The Sunday Assembly is all the best bits of church, except with no religion, and better songs. Our motto: live better, help often and wonder more” (one of these posts will be about our messaging). Who could begrudge you that?

Obviously, all of this reaching out to people will be so much easier if there is a team around you. What we are discovering that Sunday Assemblies take quite a large group of people to really get going. With that in mind, How To Build Your Team is the discussion is for Day 2 of 25 Days of Action.

Now, in keeping with the spirit of planning, these are the other topics that are lined up so far:

  • Putting Together A Team
  • Remember, It’s Not That Atheist
  • Finding Musicians
  • Choosing a Date
  • What Is A Sunday Assembly?
  • Governance
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Advertising an Assembly
  • The Crowdfunding Campaign
  • Who Speaks At An Assembly?

What else would you find it useful to hear about? Do you want to know more about the theory? Or the practice? Or do you want to know where we see it in five years time?

Well, email us with questions, use this form to express an interest in starting your own, and watch this video to find out more about the #40Dates campaign.

Now, let’s get going, gang! We’ve got a world to improve.