Tag Archives: Unique Selling Proposition

Market and Competition

Rev Troy dropped in yesterday to point out that the kinds of “inclusivity” I described in my earlier post aren’t unique to the AJC – all modern Gnostic churches share the same approach.

I realised after reading his comment that I hadn’t been trying to define what makes the AJC different from other Gnostic churches – since I don’t see our churches as being in competition: we’re in different geographical areas and we’re all mostly aiming for the same thing, there doesn’t seem to be much sense in competing.

I thought I should also point out a little about my method. These posts are a way of me feeling my way towards what makes the AJC (and particularly our church in Sydney) unique for people I’m talking to. Each of the posts highlights something I think is distinctive or interesting and my intention is to synthesise a USP from the set. This may take a while, but hopefully it means that I’ll get better at communicating the church and you, gentle readers, may find out more than you already knew.

The final thing I wanted to note is that using a marketing approach like this supposes a market of consumers and some good and some scarcity (of money, time or attention) which causes competition among providers. It isn’t totally clear to me that among potential spiritual seekers there is a real scarcity, but certainly people need to allocate their time among a large set of possible activities and spiritual seekers among a large set of possible groups and practices.

Given where Saint Uriel’s is in the world, we compete with TV and going out to drink with friends, we compete with the local Buddhist meditation group and with the Roman Catholic cathedral. I think I’ve been thinking about these posts in terms of laying out what makes us distinct from other churches, so perhaps some of this might be useful for clergy and lay ministers in other Gnostic churches who are probably facing similar competition.

Market and Competition

Rev Troy dropped in yesterday to point out that the kinds of “inclusivity” I described in my earlier post aren’t unique to the AJC – all modern Gnostic churches share the same approach.

I realised after reading his comment that I hadn’t been trying to define what makes the AJC different from other Gnostic churches – since I don’t see our churches as being in competition: we’re in different geographical areas and we’re all mostly aiming for the same thing, there doesn’t seem to be much sense in competing.

I thought I should also point out a little about my method. These posts are a way of me feeling my way towards what makes the AJC (and particularly our church in Sydney) unique for people I’m talking to. Each of the posts highlights something I think is distinctive or interesting and my intention is to synthesise a USP from the set. This may take a while, but hopefully it means that I’ll get better at communicating the church and you, gentle readers, may find out more than you already knew.

The final thing I wanted to note is that using a marketing approach like this supposes a market of consumers and some good and some scarcity (of money, time or attention) which causes competition among providers. It isn’t totally clear to me that among potential spiritual seekers there is a real scarcity, but certainly people need to allocate their time among a large set of possible activities and spiritual seekers among a large set of possible groups and practices.

Given where Saint Uriel’s is in the world, we compete with TV and going out to drink with friends, we compete with the local Buddhist meditation group and with the Roman Catholic cathedral. I think I’ve been thinking about these posts in terms of laying out what makes us distinct from other churches, so perhaps some of this might be useful for clergy and lay ministers in other Gnostic churches who are probably facing similar competition.

Inclusivity

In this series of posts, I am exploring aspects of the AJC that I believe contribute to making it a unique church. None of these posts are official church statements, they are my own views and observations as a member of the communion.

One of the distinctive things about the AJC is our inclusivity. This manifests in several ways.

Usually the first way that strikes people when meeting the church is the last statement in our statement of principles:

We recognize the Sacred Flame to be present in all Beings and therefore our Offices are open to all humanity without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, social status or sexual orientation.

This seemingly anodyne statement, nudged into the list right at the end, has a range of radical consequences which painlessly locate us as a church in the current era.

We ordain women and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folk as deacons, priests and bishops. This isn’t something we’ve struggled with and come to tolerate; it’s a natural, effortless consequence of our founding principles. No argument required.

We marry any two people who are prepared to commit to making a marriage together. Simple. (EDIT: That is, any two people who are of a legal age to marry, who aren’t already married to someone else, who the celebrant is convinced are making a genuine commitment – we simplify the gender stuff, not the rest of it)

We offer the Eucharist to any person prepared to receive it, baptised or not, Christian or not.

I believe there is a pattern underlying the way these norms arise that we see manifest in various ways in the AJC. My way of describing that pattern is: it’s more important to maintain clarity about the centre than it is to merely police the boundaries. We certainly do police boundaries from time to time, but clarity about the centre means that’s a lot less necessary.

In this case, the centre is the experience of the Sacred Flame present in all beings and an understanding that our role as a church is to point out the Flame, to foster an individual’s experience and awareness of it in their own being and to get out of the damn way.

Obviously, those three consequences (inclusive ordination, simplified marriage, open communion) are some of the advantages that arise from being an organisation founded in the third millennium. We get to choose what aspects of Being Church we draw out of history rather than being the captive of organisational norms and cultural prejudices stretching back to the feudal era in Europe.

While we are a young organisation, we also embed an ancient tradition. In the next post, I’d like to explore some consequences of inclusivity in our tradition and the way the Clear Centre pattern plays out in how we engage with theology and scripture.

Inclusivity

In this series of posts, I am exploring aspects of the AJC that I believe contribute to making it a unique church. None of these posts are official church statements, they are my own views and observations as a member of the communion.

One of the distinctive things about the AJC is our inclusivity. This manifests in several ways.

Usually the first way that strikes people when meeting the church is the last statement in our statement of principles:

We recognize the Sacred Flame to be present in all Beings and therefore our Offices are open to all humanity without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, social status or sexual orientation.

This seemingly anodyne statement, nudged into the list right at the end, has a range of radical consequences which painlessly locate us as a church in the current era.

We ordain women and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folk as deacons, priests and bishops. This isn’t something we’ve struggled with and come to tolerate; it’s a natural, effortless consequence of our founding principles. No argument required.

We marry any two people who are prepared to commit to making a marriage together. Simple. (EDIT: That is, any two people who are of a legal age to marry, who aren’t already married to someone else, who the celebrant is convinced are making a genuine commitment – we simplify the gender stuff, not the rest of it)

We offer the Eucharist to any person prepared to receive it, baptised or not, Christian or not.

I believe there is a pattern underlying the way these norms arise that we see manifest in various ways in the AJC. My way of describing that pattern is: it’s more important to maintain clarity about the centre than it is to merely police the boundaries. We certainly do police boundaries from time to time, but clarity about the centre means that’s a lot less necessary.

In this case, the centre is the experience of the Sacred Flame present in all beings and an understanding that our role as a church is to point out the Flame, to foster an individual’s experience and awareness of it in their own being and to get out of the damn way.

Obviously, those three consequences (inclusive ordination, simplified marriage, open communion) are some of the advantages that arise from being an organisation founded in the third millennium. We get to choose what aspects of Being Church we draw out of history rather than being the captive of organisational norms and cultural prejudices stretching back to the feudal era in Europe.

While we are a young organisation, we also embed an ancient tradition. In the next post, I’d like to explore some consequences of inclusivity in our tradition and the way the Clear Centre pattern plays out in how we engage with theology and scripture.

Unique Selling Proposition

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.

Unique Selling Proposition

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.