Sui generis—one of a kind, the one that defines the genus.This applies not only to individuals, but to churches and church leaders. However, it seems to me that few churches take the time to consider if or how they are unique. They simply do what every other church is doing, and hope people will notice them and join them in their journey of being just like everyone else.
That's the goal of the best kind of marketing. To be the best in the world, because the world is defined by what you do.
The impossible way to do that is to be unique because you're famous. There's only one Oprah, of course, because the thing she's famous for is being famous. There will never be another. Louis Vuitton is in this category, 50 Shades of Grey is, and so is the next hearthrob teen sensation. There is no substitute because the attraction is that this is the famous one, accept no substitutes.
The smart way to do it is to be unique before you get lucky and become famous. Take a listen to an old Talking Heads record or a house designed by Wright early in his career. There were unique before they were famous. This takes more patience, more guts and a lot more weirdness because the thing you're doing is actually interesting before it (if you're lucky) becomes popular. You might not end up as Oprah, but your uniqueness is yours, and it can pay off long before the masses choose you merely because you're the famous one.
This probably worked better in the days when denominationalism was more prevalent and more positive. First Baptist was unique because it was, well, Baptist....and City Methodist was Methodist, etc. People generally knew what to expect from a Lutheran or Roman Catholic or snake handling church.
Not so much these days. Church leaders do themselves, their members, and their communities a favor if they give careful and frequent thought to "What makes us unique?" Or, put another way, "What can we offer to the people of this community....more so than anyone else? Is it the best preaching and teaching? The most uplifting worship? The most participatory worship? Our children's ministry? Our youth group? Our communion wine?"
I believe every church has something unique to offer, if its leaders will take the time and trouble to recognize it and capitalize on it.
So...what is YOUR church uniquely gifted and/or positioned to offer to a hungry, hurting world?