I’d split my trousers in the church hall.
It happened as I bent down to lift up a DVD player from the floor. I’d just delivered a boringly tedious presentation on Civil Defence to a group of about fifty who had come in for a soup kitchen lunch. The ‘Zzzzziiipppp’ resounded among the rafters like an incoming cruise missile. Startled, my audience and I gazed at each other for fully ten seconds, before, red faced with embarrassment, I sidled off stage with my backside firmly pointed to the wall.
Those ten seconds was the only time I had the full attention of my audience. I knew I’d failed them and myself because I hadn’t done my homework beforehand.
My host, a lay Minister, grinned, patted me soothingly on the shoulder. A couple of wicked looking safety pins were found to repair the damage. ‘Come join us for lunch,’ he invited. ‘You can sit on these cushions.’
He then proceeded to say a few words to the assembly before we all sat down to share lunch together. He spoke softly and eloquently, his voice soothing and encouraging. He spoke about how fortunate we were to have such an abundance of food, the warmth of our family and friends, the importance of our hopes for a brighter future and how budgeting might help us achieve our aspirations. His message was inspirational. His audience totally captivated.
Later I congratulated him and asked if he had ever considered writing down and publishing his marvelous presentations. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘This group is my only audience. Have been for years. These are my parishioners. I know each of them by name.’
‘But you spoke so well,’ I protested. ‘I’m sure there are others who would be interested to hear you and could benefit from your message. You obviously know your local audience very well but have you ever researched your wider market?’
Of course he hadn’t and didn’t know where to start. We went to his office and fired up his computer.
We did a simple search of his church’s parish membership and then to his church’s global membership. The results were startling. From 150 parishioners to 100 million people world wide.
‘There you are,’ I exclaimed triumphantly. ‘You can inspire lunchtime gatherings around the world and you don’t even have to know their names. ’
He was astonished. ‘Fancy that,’ he mused shaking his head in disbelief. ‘100 million people. eh … well, well, well …’ He looked up, nodded and smiled. ‘This research thing might be worth a shot.’
I grinned back. I liked the notion that the noise of my splitting trousers might reverberate globally and lead to the inspiration of 100 million people. Not all had been lost that day after all.
Rodney ‘Badger’ Dearing