Holistic

Thoughts From Mars Hill and the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo

It is difficult knowing where to start when describing the impacts which the Body, Soul, & Spirit Expo have had in mine and others faith. Were we called to do this out of bringing Jesus to those who sought after him most? Or, where we there to witness the impacts and expressions of Jesus which would affect those who came seeking and that of ourselves in following his lead? Sitting and listening to the many stories and the many moments of expression coming from those who went to the Expo, I could not help but recognize the depth to which Jesus worked; not just in the hearts and minds of seeking attendees but also in the core of his followers. There are many stories which I would like to share with you but perhaps for the moment I will share just one. It was the later part of Friday afternoon and we had pretty well just finished setting our area up for people to come in and speak with us. A gentleman named Scott, who was just passing by, quickly noticed our open relaxed format and promptly walked right in a sat next to my friend Justin while asking, “So, what is this all about? Who are you guy’s?”

In truth, we were a little taken back by his upfront approach but we easily explained our affiliation with two local churches and intent to offer a place of hospitality and rest to those who might be down here at the Expo. “That’s cool!” he said. I asked him what brought him down to the Expo and he explained that he had come down for a “Quantum Energy Treatment”. I didn’t really understand what he meant but through conversation I could really sense his need to find a social setting of acceptance and to find a community which would not be judgmental by worldly expectations.

That was what was so cool about being in conversation with Scott. We went from talking about worldly judgments and values to the possibility of a different world’s values and then; the possibility of another Kingdom’s values and judgments!

It was in the midst of this conversation that Justin and I extended our hands out to Scott’s shoulders and we asked if we could pray for him. After asking how, he graciously accepted and following praying for him he asks with a large smile, “Is that it?”

I couldn’t help but sense the simplicity of Jesus’ gospel within these many moments at the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo. Jesus made it clear, “The Kingdom of God is near!” (Luke 10:9) In the acceptance of that truth, “come follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Is that not what a true disciple is?

I have found so much encouragement out of this experience and can see the great things Jesus has done and is doing through our presence at the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo. It is with the greatest hope that we return to these people as we share a gospel of love, hope, and faith (1 Cor. 13:13) and remain in their home (Luke 10:7).

Thoughts for the future…

Greater and more Radical Discipleship

We need to plan for Invitations of follow up and places for seeking people to go and encounter more about Jesus as we encounter them at the Expo. Whether it is gathering around ‘Alpha’, ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’, or something else.

Planning for Generosity

We offered free Bibles and donated materials. It is just a thought but, if we could plan for a rather more structured generosity “package” such as a connected Bible, Book (i.e. ‘Purpose Driven Life’, ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’, ect.), and a Daily Bread; I wonder if it might find a greater response.

More Space and Planning of Format

It seemed our 8’ X 8’ booth was quit cramped at times and difficult for inclusive and hospitable practices/values. If we had the opportunity to expand our area as well as the availability to use an electrical outlet we could work towards communicating a Third Place space and the values of Authentic Community in greater fashion. Hospitality can also be improved with better coffee, tea, and atmosphere.

Identifying Marketing Strategies of Competition and the Incarnational Approaches of Expressions

As you may already know Expressions has been a long time dream for me and I have been spending a good deal of time focusing my energies on writing a business plan to implement hopefully within the next year. In truth, I am nervous as to my adequacy in carrying out this dream as much of my character is describable as "highly relational" and business is not necessarily something I have been schooled in or have a lot of experience in. With this in mind I would like to share a portion of Expressions Marketing Strategy with you in the hopes you will offer comments and critique it's positive and negative projections. I have offered links within it as to ideas and principles which I have borrowed from others as well as incorporated from my own philosophies and beliefs. Please keep in mind that this is in my eyes not just a business but a ministry also in the hopes of bringing a relevant and living gospel to the southeast communities of Calgary.

MARKETING STRATEGY - DESCRIPTION OF KEY COMPETITORS

The major coffee shop providers for the south east quadrant of Calgary are predominantly the franchised or corporate movements of Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, or Second Cup. Their locations are usually targeted to high traffic shopping locations found both on 130th Avenue and the Douglas Glen shopping mall. Auburn Bay is a developing community and with the hospital and surrounding industrial complex, Expressions does anticipate one or more of them to be a competing factor.

These competitors predominantly focus their marketing through three streams. They are Visual Presence, Convenience, and Fast Service. Visual presence targets customers through the simplicity of publicizing the marketed logo in accessible visual avenues located within close proximity to the store itself. Convenience offers the customer quick access to a product which is dependably similar to the other locations considered associates of the franchise or corporation. Finally, fast service provides the customer with the product in a quick fashion ideally through either the provided store front or a drive through window at a cheep price.

With the projection of most reports in customer growth, Tim Horton’s is expected to continue to grow in demand with the major focus being on convenience. Although offering a number of products their main drawing point and focus is on the sale of coffee. Other products include baked goods, snack products, and home style lunches. Due to franchise partnerships and the demands created by them their products have diversified greatly and in appearance it seems they will continue to develop into more of a restaurant then a coffee house focused on community development.

MARKETING STRATEGY - ANALYSIS OF COMPETITIVE POSITION

Expressions intends to use an (i)ncarnational model of marketing both in product services and community development. By this Expressions means to focus on four avenues to connecting with customers and the local community. They are Presence, Proximity, Powerlessness, and Proclamation.

The practice of Presence is in some ways similar to that of the competition in that it uses the marketing logo image in strategic avenues of visual accessibility to draw the customers in. However, Expressions presence can also be visualized through community involvements such as participating with other social gatherings which are externally located from its central location. Through the sale of coffee mugs the marketed presence can also be brought into the home. Other avenues of presence can come through the visual invitation of mail outs, posters, and local news letter postings, giving advertising to Expressions community events along with product offerings.

Proximity becomes Expressions desire to enter the lives of the local people where they currently are involved and create a gravitational connection to those movements and that of Expressions. By that we mean to shape our involvements around the needs and cultural placements of local practices. Coffee Products and small baked goods/snacks will be offered according to the tastes of the customers. Likewise, Expressions community involvements both internal and external will be highly influenced by the customers social needs, dreams, passions, and social involvements. In many ways the practice of proximity is unique to Expressions compared with its competition as the intent is to serve the customer holistically rather then the products.

The element of powerlessness is intended to again focus on the needs and service to the customer through relational contact. We would like Expressions, its environmental spaces, and community groups to be open and usable by all regardless to the buying of products, beliefs, or social positions. Expressions does not wish to put parameters on anyone who is entering the store front and instead intends to build relational fronts first while then exposing them to the benefits of products and community involvements. In essence, Expressions is placing the power into the hands of the customer while remaining powerless in its self propagating agendas holding faith to the customer bringing sustainability to its developments.

Finally proclamation brings voice to the growth and developments of the Expressions movement. Following the establishment of a physical presence, creating a gravitational proximity to the local community and customers, and remaining open and inviting through states of powerlessness; Expressions can pursue marketing through the practice of proclamation. By nature as customers encounter the benefits and find good value in Expressions products and social involvements they will then tell others about its services and community. This can happen not only through invitation but also through the witnessing of local social activist groups which are involved with Expressions.