A brief return to the 'retail is detail' mantra I oft repeat. Two examples that, I think, make the point.
Yesterday in Wells the Big Issue seller had made a small display behind which he stood, consisting of two newspaper boards. On the one board he had written, 'Please queue here in an orderly fashion.' On the other, 'Two free staples with every issue.'
It's interesting watching the things Big Issue sellers do to give them an edge. Some have slogans and strap lines. Others a certain style of waving. Still more stand in utter silence and eyeball you.
I did once see a woman in Park Street, Bristol selling big tissues.
Example two. I went to two welcome services for new ministers over the weekend. Both had similar content - some singing, some words of greeting, some prayers, some engagement with the Bible and sermon. Both of the services were done reasonably well and were engaging, passing apparently quicker than the hour and a half they lasted.
My memory of the first is of a small child in an action song with a remarkable sense of rhythm. He was compelling to watch. He was not, as some children do in action songs, waiting for the older children to move and then taking his cue from them. He was on the beat, every time.
In the second service the opening item was a choir singing the Mary Wells song, 'My Guy' with the word guy changed to God. I hated it. I wanted the ground to open up. Then I wanted to laugh so badly I had to eat my handkerchief and avoid eye contact with everyone. Although there were good things in the service I can only remember the bad. I have to think really hard to recall that there were some good things in the sermon, excellent use of projector and comfortable seats. All I get is, 'He may not be a movie star but when it comes to being happy - we are.' Or, 'I gave my God my word of honour, to be faithful and I'm gonna,' which wasn't a great rhyme in the original and didn't get improved by deifying it.
OK, so I have no particular qualms about those who did enjoy it. My point is that in two similar presentations the one with one below par thing will be remembered as bad; the one with one above-par thing will be remembered as good. We need to get the details right. We need to get everything to average by eliminating the bad. Then the good will be noticed. Even Big Issue sellers have worked out they need an edge.