Capitalizing on the Story

Good press is hard to come by for churches, and generating it pretty tricky I would imagine. But here seems to be a simple formula that makes sense (  

“It’s a way to explain what sort of reverberations you may expect from the verb, the thing you do.  The letters stand for…
r1 = reverberations
v = the thing you do
q = quality of your product/service
b = brand warmth 
r0 = reverberations of the last thing you did”
(See article for further explanation)

For the past couple of years our Student Ministry has done a haunted house around Halloween.  This past year I had the pleasure of helping out with it.  They do a great job of documenting what has been done and capitalizing on the reverberations of these events. Here’s the recap video from the 2010 Terror Maze:

What have we done as a church or church body that we can capitalize on the story of? It’s like doubling your return on investment. Thanksgiving outreach? Big youth event? What are we doing in big ways that reflects Christ?  What are the big events at your church?  Are you documenting them? I want to see and share these events with others.  Going viral should be the goal.  Get the people’s attention and then let the gospel do the rest.

Flash Mob, or is that what the kids are calling it these days.

I did a little research (well, Wikipedia) before composing this post.  I know right, crazy.  I wanted to see what, when or how this term came into existence.  Turns out, the first use of the term “Flash mob” was in a blog post in 2003, to describe the even that had just taken place in New York City.  Some creative fellow, by the name of Wasik, orchestrated 100 people to converge on a giant rug on the 9th floor of Macy’s Department Store.  Says he was doing a social experiment.  I think he just wanted to have fun and get some attention.  Anyway, there’s your history lesson, now onto the post.

I know you have seen this next video before, a bunch of people start singing in the food court of a mall.  What? You haven’t?  Oh, well here you go.

Pretty good right?  I like it.  They took the idea of a flash mob and gave it purpose.  Grab some attention and spread the gospel.  Love it!  Well we did a similar thing in college with a lot of cardboard and duct tape.  The video you are about to see is graphic in nature (not really), so shield your grandmother’s eyes and guard your daughters.  This isn’t the actual time we shared the Gospel (that was a year later), but the video has most of the same guys, and the exact same idea.

As you can see, lots of fun. I still remember, a year after the original medieval massacre, wielding my cardboard staff and beating my friends senseless.  What was really cool, was that after everyone had collapsed to the ground, one man was left standing.  With, I’d estimate, at least 200 onlookers, this lone warrior presented the Gospel to a stunned crowd of college students. Well I’d like to perfect this idea and provide some structure for a good Gospel driven flash mob experience.  To plan it out properly you need to start from the end.

Create a destination, a place you want those seeing the event to end up.  Kind of like the commercial during the Super Bowl. Obviously you want your message to be clear, being that the end result is someone accepting Christ’s gift of salvation right?  You then need to make that destination obvious to those watching.  I envision a short simple website emblazoned on the backs of bright green t-shirts or sweat shirts. Another cool idea would be to have some sort of text messaging service set up that viewers could send a text message to. This would allow for an immediate interaction on their part.

The next step is to have a good local in mind. Now, we don’t want to be disruptive to businesses or other functions of a public atmosphere.  Angry people do not make for good audiences.  You want a place with above average foot traffic, as well as a wide viewing angle to draw distant onlookers in.  I suggest if you come up with a good idea, to scout at your location in advance around the same time of day you would be doing your event.

As for the event, singing is always fun (as long as you have a group of good singers).  It also doesn’t hurt to be creative, but not weird.  Don’t just have a bunch of people standing around.  Remember, the idea is to get noticed and keep people’s attention.  Make sure that whatever you do is filmed in some manner.  Going viral should be a secondary goal as your message gets spread beyond the initial event.

As a disclaimer, I have yet to do any of these ideas. I don’t have time or current have the resources to organize something like this.  I just have lots of ideas that I hope someone else can pick up and run with.  To me, it seems so simple and obvious to do these sorts of things, but follow through has never been one of my strong suits.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Isn’t a little embarrassment worth it?

Checking in to the movement

Some time between 5th grade and now, four square changed meanings.  You know, the game with four squares on the ground and you have to bounce the ball into the other…… oh nevermind.  It was at least after I worked at a camp during college, because I distinctly remember trash talking some middle schoolers about my mad skills on the indoor four square court.  Now, it seems I’m trash talking coworkers about my foursquare skills, this time though the court is my phone and I’m the mayor. That’s right, I’m talking about location-based services.

Before I dive to far into the subject, I have to admit, I got sucked in.  I’m a chronic checkeriner (If that’s a word? If it isn’t, it will be soon.  Watch out Palin, I’m coming for you.).  I currently hold mayorships in…..(pause while checking my phone).. 7 places.  Also, and the let’s get real here, I was a little sad when I lost my Chick-fil-a mayorship.  Yet, even though I’m doing it, I still ask why and find it completely useless.  Well sort of.

The location-based social networking craze came out of no where and it’s gone crazy.  Just off the top of my head, there’s foursquare, yelp, gowalla, Facebook check in, SCVNGR, Loopt, and many more apps that one can install on to their mobile device. It makes me wonder how someone coming up with a new service thinks they will change the way we click a button to say, “We’re Here!”.  In old school terms, is there a better way to raise your hand to say you’re in class?  Maybe that’s whats next, kids “checking in” at school.  Wait, they probably already do.

I see where retailers can use these services for giving out deals and coupons, we’ve taken advantage of 2 for 1 at Chipotle multiple times. It also makes sense that keeping up with friends is a nice plus, but isn’t that hard with all the service/app options? John’s on foursquare, Seth on gowalla, Mark on SCVNGR, it’s just so confusing.  But what’s the greater use for this?  I mean the technology is cool, but unless a better use is found, it will remain a gimmick and fall to the wayside like a 90’s slap bracelet.  Good news for you is that I think I found it.  It’s in the movement.

My wife noticed that when enough people check in at one location on foursquare that location “trends” to the top of the list so that anyone about to check in to a nearby location sees that trending location first.  Let’s look at this from a church perspective.  Let’s say you are having an outreach event.  Create an event location on any number of these location based services and then have staff and volunteers check in upon arrival.  Your outreach is now becoming a movement in the online social world, trending up across multiple services and reaching audiences that might not normally come to one of your events.  The end result is that, like flies to a bug zapper, people will stop by your event to just see what all the fuss is about.

This is probably already happening to a certain extent without anyone planning it to.  What I’m suggesting is that we be more purposeful with it.  Plan it out ahead of time.  It’s a very simple thing that could have far-reaching effects for your church in what we were put here to do.  So, spread the gospel one check in at a time.

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