Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Business Networking: Smells like Evangelism??

Early this morning I attended a business networking breakfast in McLean (BNI) at the invitation of my efficiency coach, Gerhard. This was the first time I had attended anything of this sort. He was making a presentation at the meeting about his service and I went to support and endorse his work.
I was caught a little off guard when at a couple of points in the meeting, each individual was expected to stand up and address the group. The first time members and then visitors in turn would give their 30-second "who I am/what I offer/the leads I need are ___" speech. For some reason I assumed that I would be exempt from this activity since, after all, I am not a business person but a priest...and one who is currently without a church. But nooooo......

The leader, looking around notices that everyone has had their turn - except moi. I look at him and with arm fully extended, eyes lasered in, he points directly at me like a birddog that has cornered a grounded pheasant. I stand up, mind racing. At that point the smile on my face is for cosmetic purposes only.

"Good morning. I'm Jennifer McKenzie and I'm an Episcopal priest. (pause) I market God."

I said more - I know I did. And it was true - I just don't necessarily remember it all. I know I said that I am particularly interested in helping people who feel disenfranchised from the church find community where they can connect to God - and I am. It's just that I wasn't quite prepared for that moment. Or, more accurately- I wasn't expecting that moment. In fact I was prepared, because as a priest who has served as an Associate for Evangelism, I have given this a lot of thought. I'm just not sure I had it down to 30 seconds. (Thanks for not dinging me at 'time's up'!)

Which is why I share this story with you. Sometimes - or maybe most of the time - it is in the most unlikely places that we are called upon to tell our story: who I am (Christian), what I offer (a life of radical hope and connection to God in community), and the leads I need are ___ (who do I think needs to hear my message?). We need to know our story, to be able to tell our story, and to tell it fast and to the point - but in a non-threatening way. I find that a little irreverent humor goes a long way in that department.

So, I'm Jennifer McKenzie. I'm an Episcopal priest. And I market God.

Smells like Evangelism to me.

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