Let’s get Mary Portas in to church!

Last night watched Mary Queen of Shops on BBC2. Mary Portas went to work on HT Burt, a gentleman’s outfitter that was stuck in a 1970’s time warp. The owner, grandson of the original proprietor, seemed afraid to deviate to far from his father’s style, and the business was losing money. Everyone was discouraged.

Mary had to show them that young men would never buy their clothes. They were shown a range of high quality, fashionable essentials and given some shop floor experience. The owner’s wife and the oldest salesman both thrived, but the owner and the buyer were lost. After staging a catwalk show and making them sell tea-shirts at a rock concerr, Mary got them to understand the clothes and character of the 40+ sophisticated man they were targetting.

A daytime publicity drive saw crowds of men (and a few women) attend the launch party, and they took £2000 in a few hours. Five weeks later, the shop was profitable and the staff happy. The owner’s father was delighted with the success.

The starting point reminded me of so many corps – wanting people to come in, but afraid of changing what their parents did for fear of being disloyal. As a result, they are tired, weary and discouraged. I know we are not a shop as such, but we are seeking to draw people in. If we can’t summon up the energy and drive, how can we attract others.

The message doesn’t change, but our presentation is like window dressing and can surely be adjusted to suit our setting and the people we are seeking to attract.

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About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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