Is Your Church Contagious?
Is Your Church Contagious?
My friend Mark is really smart. So when he handed me the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, I knew it was a must read. I took the opportunity to bring it along on a recent coast-to-coast flight. After warming up my intellect with People magazine (hey, don’t judge), I came away from reading Contagious inspired. Churches who are committed to spreading the Good News ought to read it as well.
Berger outlines six principles (STEPPS) that make things contagious (adapted here for us churchy types):
1. Social Currency: How do you look to others when you talk about your church or missions you sponsor? Because they like who you are and what they see, will others be inspired to be in partnership with you? Is your congregation involved in activities that make you passionate?
2. Triggers: How do we remind people to talk about our church or externally-focused projects? If someone in your town sees a backpack – will they think of your church’s backpack program? If someone hears the words “stamp out hunger,” does your church come to mind?
3. Emotion: How can the church craft messages and ideas that make people feel something? Is your church known as “God’s frozen chosen?” To be clear, that would be the opposite of “emotion.” Help your congregation experience something that gets their heart pumping, makes them smile, or even shed a tear – as Berger says “when we care, we share.”
4. Public: Can people outside the church see when you are engaging in desired behavior? In God talk: Don’t hide your lamp under a bushel.
5. Practical Value: What useful significance to every day life does your church offer to your congregation and community? Many people in our communities would be inspired to attend classes being offered by our congregations (think Financial Peace University and parenting programs) – if only they knew about them.
6. Stories: Any regular reader of this blog already knows the importance of telling your story. As Berger says, “We need to do more than just tell a great story…We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.” What story is associated with your congregation?
But don’t let this very abbreviated list be the end. Contagious is chock full of great examples of how every day people made their ideas and products catch on. Each congregation has something that should make them “contagious.” What are you waiting for? Spread God’s love.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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