How to Build an Atheist Church: Day 2, building the team
Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans discuss the importance of a good team when starting an atheist church
Most of the greatest stories ever told start off with a man on a mission turning a ragtag bunch of individuals into a fantastic team. Ocean’s 11, The Dirty Dozen, Armageddon and the New Testament all involve one crazy dude transforming the many into one. So, who will you need in your team in order to get your godless congregation off the ground? What is the right ratio of safe crackers to fishermen? Do you need a taxman and convicted felons?
One thing we’re learning at The Sunday Assembly, is that Assemblies that launch successfully have strong large teams. When Pippa and I first came up with the Sunday Assembly Everywhere framework we said there had to be a minimum of three people on the organizing committee because we wanted to avoid deadlock. In fact, you’ll need more people than that.
We launched an Assembly in Exeter with three people but then one person had to drop out for personal reasons, another for work reasons, and suddenly there was one person trying to organize the entire thing. The only Sunday Assembly in Devon will relaunch during our 40 Dates and 40 Nights: The Roadshow, and the first thing we did was make sure that the team was beefed up.
Having said that, it is incredible what just a small team of volunteers can do. There are now Assemblies in Bristol, Melbourne and New York, all being run by very keen locals who want to celebrate life. And it is totally inspiring to have travelled across the UK and the US to meet these small groups, who, together, are making a very very big thing.
These are some of the roles you’ll need to fill:
Organiser – someone who can make sure that the right things happen when they are meant to. The sort of person who loves deadlines and lists.
Band leader – great music is one of the keys to an Assembly. A band leader who can find volunteer musicians and make a great sound is vital.
Marketing and Press – we have a tendency to have press stories written about us, but that takes effort and the ability to send out press releases to the right people.
Producer – live events are tricky, but simple. To make a truly wonderful ‘Wow’ experience happen every time, it helps to have someone from the world of live entertainment (Assemblies are entertaining, not entertainment).
Booker – one of the biggest difficulties new congregations have face is finding a guest speaker. They are out there, but it can take time and involve a lot of phone calls to schools, universities, charities and other organizations.
Social Media – The Sunday Assembly has spread online, it really helps to have someone who can tweet, Meet Up, FB and all the rest.
You don’t need a separate person for all of these things, but you will need to have them ticked off. Oh, and you might see that there is no slot for a Host (our name for the service leader), we’ll explain why in a subsequent post.
At the moment we’re putting together the documentation on how to organize and run a Sunday Assembly, with all the different roles and responsibilities. It’s the sort of thing that we can contribute to people starting their own Assembly (more on that in a subsequent post: What Are the Benefits of Starting a Sunday Assembly?). Hope you found this helpful and come back tomorrow to ask: How Atheist Should Our Assembly Be?
Day 3, how atheist should our assembly be? can be found here.