No Canned Elevator Speech, Just Heartfelt Words by Joan Dennehy

It was the last session of the retreat. Chad was asking us to think about what we’d say to a stranger on Beacon Hill who asked us about this church we are building. Who are we? Who do we want to be? What would our elevator speech be? We went off in groups of three and starting thinking/writing. Sharing with each other, revising, pondering.

Being one who most often follows instruction, I wrote my elevator speech: We seek to be a people of hope and faithful presence. We are a Christian community, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in relation with God and neighbor, rooted in N. Beacon Hill. We are inclusive, humble, peacemaking people who care about justice in a global world. We want to join in with what Spirit is doing to heal and make new. Well, that was what I wrote at that moment in time. Clutching my sheet of paper I returned to the circle of chairs expecting a recitation of everyone’s little bundle of words.

Was I ever surprised by what happened next. The first eager comment was from one who was touched by someone in his group who simply told her story. No canned elevator speech. Just heartfelt words about why she is at Welcome Table. It resonated with the whole group. Yeah, who wants an elevator speech when you can have a story! Stories connect people.

Besides, said another, we don’t know what we want to be yet. Elevator speeches are static and we are changing. One man said he had friends who want what we have at Welcome Table but they don’t want ‘old’ church. Maybe they’d come if they knew they could have a hand in shaping something new. The youth said so many words about social media that my eyes glazed over.

But it was the right ending to a very good weekend. And Chad stood there smiling...the good facilitator who doesn’t talk too much. I sheepishly tucked my little speech in my pocket and blessed the array of stories that have sustained me in this beloved congregation!