From time to time a friend asks me to explain why I’m a priest or why I’m in a church or what the point of my church is and I often find myself tongue-tied and unable to easily justify myself.
Some of that is uncertainty about the person I’m talking to. If the person is a Christian, it’s not too bad, I know where to start. If they’re a Buddhist I have a few places to go. My problem is with secular, unchurched folk who don’t have a practice themselves. Where to begin?
On the weekend, I spent the afternoon at a friend’s birthday on Cockatoo Island and one of the other guests (let’s call her C) was curious about my ordination and the church and did me the favour of asking smart questions. C is a public relations professional and after I’d mumbled and stumbled around for a while, she decided to hit me with The Question:
C: What’s your USP?
Me: My what?
C: Your Unique Selling Proposition. What is it about your church that makes it uniquely great?
She asked me other great questions like “How do people know you’re there?”, but the USP question has stuck with me. We talked about my thought that it’s more that we have a set of things that make us unique and interesting. Apparently in PR this is OK, but I just need to get snappy at articulating them.
Some folk in spiritual circles, especially church circles, might be horrified by thinking about our church in PR terms, but I suspect if that’s the case, you’ve never tried setting up a parish from scratch on a continent where your organisation has no other foothold. C’s questions really pointed my attention very clearly at where I lack clarity.
So, I’m going to take it on. A USP for the AJC. If you, my 3 or 4 readers, will bear with me I’m going to devote a series of posts to things about my church that I think are remarkable or interesting. These comments are solely my own opinion and not representative of any official AJC position or the thoughts of any other clergy.
Perhaps when I’m done, I’ll be able to field questions from interested people without looking like a dope.