I’m sure a lot of people will find reasons to be negative about the Channel 4 programme Priest Idol, aired tonight and mentioned here on the Cartoon Blog last week. The programme, as you may remember, features the church of St Mary Magdalene in Lundwood, near Barnsley, which is about to close unless the new Vicar can turn things around.
But, despite the fact the marketing people brought in to help do seem to have a certain lack of understanding of the Christian message (not their fault), and despite the fact that the outgoing Vicar does himself no favours with his negativity I did find the programme really quite inspiring.
All credit to Father James McCaskill, the new priest, who put a lot of energy into getting out into the community and meeting the people. That surely has to be the first step.
But it’s the local comedian who, despite not being a churchgoer, seems to have the most useful advice. To quote the channel 4 page: “It is Toby Foster who, with one small demonstration, shows Father James the difference between a dry sermon and what makes people listen to what you say“. Lets hope Father James can put his storytelling tips into practice. I’m looking forward to episode 2.
My advice to Vicars everywhere: Go and find a local stand up comedian and ask them for some advice on communicating with an audience every week.
Update: See also the next post ‘Response from the Priest Idol marketing company‘.
Update 2: There is an interview with Father James here on Christianity Today.
Update 3: Richard at Connexions has made a few posts on the subect (here and the next three posts), Church Marketing Sucks has posted and I’ve been writing rubbish over in the comments at Yasmin’s blog (down at the time of writing).