Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Elevator Pitch

You're in an elevator wearing one of our new Plainfield Friends T-shirts. Somebody enters the elevator, sees the T-shirt and says, "I've driven by Plainfield Friends on Highway 40. What kind of a church is it?" What will you say while the elevator makes its way to the floor you are headed to?

This is the idea of the "elevator pitch." The goal is to give a concise and clear description that is boiled down to 30 or 40 words that will leave the listener wanting to know more. The description needs to be in terms understood by the listener. It needs to be genuine. And it needs to be short enough to share between floors on an elevator.

A discussion group on "The Religious Society of Friends - Quakers" on Linked In looked at the question of what might be a good elevator pitch for Friends and got me to thinking about it.

What would an elevator pitch for Plainfield Friends sound like?

It needs to include what we are (fill in your own ideas in the blanks below), such as:
   We are a Christian church
   We are a gathering of people who worship together
   We are people who are learning to follow Jesus
   We believe that Jesus Christ has come to teach his people himself



It needs to include what we do, which might include:
   We sing, pray and share the Bible together
   We feed hungry people through the food pantry
   We host the Plainfield Farmers' Market
   We spend time in quiet, waiting worship

It needs to include why someone would want to be part of our group, maybe:
   We try to keep things simple
   We look for ways to serve each other and our community
   We make room for people



What would your elevator pitch sound like? Write it down, send or give it to me, and let me share it with others (anonymously, if you would like).



Faith said...

I work at the William Penn House, where we get a lot of guests who have never heard of Quakers and are curious when they hear we have worship each morning. I've got my Quaker elevator speech pretty well rehearsed after 5 years of explain to people why we're about to sit still and quiet for a half hour.

"Quakers believe that God can speak to each one of us. We don't need a mediator like a pastor or a priest. And so we sit here in silence listening and expecting God to speak to us, both individually and as a group. One of us may feel led by God to give a brief message in the form of a short sermon, a prayer, a song or a Bible passage. It's okay if no one does. That doesn't mean nothing has happened. God speaks even when we don't. We'll end our time together when I say good morning Friends and shake each others hands."

Maybe more than 30 or 40 seconds and pretty specific for a strangers who's about to do Quaker worship for the first time, but it's also good for elevators.

Anonymous said...

I was glad to read that Faith's elevator speech speaks my mind. I had already written out the following though and thought I'd share it:

Friends seek the inner light, the child within, or that of God within each of us. In silent worship we discern what we are called to let rise as our vocal ministry.

You might enjoy my Meeting because the silent worship is rich and contemplative and it brings together a strong and loving community.

Howard Brod said...

I usually start like this:

"My particular branch of Quakers likes to worship as the first Quakers did in the 1600's - in silence and without the benefit of a pastor - because we all minister to each other. During worship, out of the silence someone may offer a brief message, a song, a prayer, or a reading that's inspired by the Spirit. But mostly, those present sit in a circle or square surrounded by lots of silence, trying to listen to the Divine."

Then I inevitably get the question: "Are you all Christians and do you use the Bible?". I answer as follows:

"I consider myself a Christian. And most Quakers in the world are Christians. My branch of the Quaker faith, however, is very open to all spiritual seekers and doesn't require any doctrinal unity. We're not too concerned with labels. Rather, we emphasize experiencing God and the unity bought about by following Jesus' example of simply living in active love. We do use the Bible, but do not use it as a rule book, and we do not let it or any book substitute for a direct relationship with God. Doing so would be idolatrous to us."

OK, I usually have to hold the elevator door open to get all of this out.

Paul said...

When someone asks us what Quaker believe, we tend to give answers that are long, vague and tedious. We aren't comfortable with the question. We squirm. We struggle. Often we talk about what we don't believe. This makes outreach rather difficult. Some Quakers simply choose not to engage in the dialogue, saying that our beliefs are private things we need not discuss. As you all know we Quakers do not have a creed.No single statement of religious doctrine is accepted by all.

When folks and family members in particular have asked me what's a Quaker? Instead of giving a flippant answer.(Which I have been guilty of in the past) I have its best to follow their question up with another question. Is there something in particular about Quakerism you would like to know? Most of the time folks will follow up that question up with a more specific question. Like,"do you believe in Jesus as you savior?"(a very popular question) Then you can share the diversity of beliefs Quakers have about the person of Jesus.For example,many Quakers(numerically on a global level)believe Jesus is sovereign and the core of the Quaker faith!(that's not theoretical base in reality)And others see the Galilean as a prophetic teacher.Many of us are in the middle.

This method question with a question opens the door not only to the breathe of diversity of belief in the Society of Friends. But it also demonstrates there is room at the table for ALL! Which I believe is keeping truly in the spirit of Jesus.

This method "question with a question" was not my invention. All credit goes to Mr Socrates. This is just my Quaker twist on the Socratic Method.