Recently, I had an interesting conversation about how we define ourselves. A friend pointed out that this entire organization seemed to define themselves by what they were not. We are not like this, we are not like that, and therefore, we are different than the rest. Throughout the fall, my daughter’s high school alma mater unleashed a new ad campaign on highly trafficked billboards throughout the city during the eighth grade recruitment season that struck a similar tone (see images on right.) I do not know how others interpreted the billboards (and accompanying facebook ads;) but I understood the message as “Hey, we are an all-girls inner-city school building character, as in contrast to those suburban private girls’ school where folks send their little princesses.”
All of which got me wondering… do we program for what we are or what we don’t want to be? Is our programming forming towards the affirmative or away from the undesirable?
And, who is engaged in making these decisions? My bet in many cases is that we just do this instinctually rather than as a strategy consciously and transparently selected by shared leadership within the community.
Know this… I love the ad campaign. Ir is provocative and challenging, a real discussion starter. Yet, for a Catholic institution, one wonders if it still fell just slightly short of the mark. While speaking of values and even Christian-adjacent values, it would have been interesting to me to see what the public relations firm could have done with being more explicit about being a faith-based. And the same is true of us all.
What makes our ministry uniquely Catholic? Check your instinctual answer against your next few weeks of planned programming. (Not having your next weeks planned is likely indicative or an unsatisfactory answer.)
How are you forming disciples?
How are you compelling others (your team; the community’s adults, most especially including parents; and, of course, the kids) to their responsibilities to evangelize?
It’s the new year, early in mid-academic year, and a great time to (re)assess what we is and what we ain’t.