I'm shocked when I stop to think about how long The Four Laws has lasted as CCC's primary evangelistic tool given the dramatic cultural and philosophic changes that have happened since 1952. It's amazing that something developed over fifty years ago still powerfully influences people for Christ even to this day. Yet there seems to be a growing sense that it's efficacy is dwindling, especially in the US.
I'm not advocating killing the Four Spiritual Laws as an evangelistic tool---I am advocating killing the Four Spiritual Laws as THE evangelistic tool. Instead of having one 'blockbuster' tool, we need to have many 'indie' tools that speak and target specific groups of people instead of the masses.
The person for whom Dr. Bright developed the tool rarely exists on today's college campus: a modern-minded white, upper-middle class student from a single income, dual-parent household where Christianity was the family religion. With so much cultural and religious diversity on campus, it's pretentious to think that one tool can adequately satisfy all of the evangelistic demands.
I would love to discuss what it would look like to shift from a GENERAL/MASSES driven perspective on evangelistic tool production to a SPECIFIC/NICHE driven one.
"Today there seems to be less demand for blockbusters than there is for focused or targeted content that isn’t for everybody!"--The Long Tail pg. 82
Although 'targeted content that isn't for everybody' sounds inherently un-evangelistic, I believe it's the place we need to move evangelistically. It's not because The Four Laws does a poor job communicating the Gospel--it is because we have an unprecedented opportunity to develop specific/niche driven evangelistic tools that are highly effective for some, and completely ineffective for all.
Anderson explains how this is possible:
- Democratization of Production: "The best example of this is the personal computer, which has put everything from the printing press to the film and music studios in the hands of anyone...Give enough people the capacity to create, and inevitably gems will emerge." --The Long Tail pg. 54
- Democratization of the Distribution Process: "The PC made everyone a producer or publisher, but it was the Internet that made everyone a distributor."--Ibid pg.54
- Connecting Supply and Demand: "This can take the form of anything from Google's wisdom of crowds search to iTunes' recommendations, along with word of mouth, from blogs to customer reviews."--Ibid pg. 56. People no longer have to settle for content that kind of fits--these changes have made it easy for people to find exactly what they are looking for.
As I examine these three forces, I am convinced that the next generation of effective evangelistic tools WILL be developed from the fringes. We cannot wait for our president or national office to lead us in this area. The tools to develop and distribute relevant, effective, and specific Gospel content demand that we pioneer evangelism on the local level.
I would love to see more evangelistic tools with the following characteristics:
- Less polished and rough around the edges--even unfinished and dependent on use for completion--move the lab from Lake Hart to the Campus baby!
- Focused on one part of the Gospel rather than the whole--why not something just on the atonement, or solely focused on exposing God's love or wrath or ________?
- Short shelf life--developed with the mindset that it will be used for a specific amount of time.
- Built on secular platforms (more on this later...)--YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter. Why do we continue to build tools that are incompatible with these social media giants?
Some questions to kick-off the discussion:
- Why do you think CCC still has a silver bullet mentality when it comes to evangelism? What steps have you taken locally or organizationally to change this?
- What are the drawbacks to moving to a niche-driven mentality? What are you fears?
- What excites you about pioneering new evangelistic tools? What characteristics would you like to be true of them?
- Are you fearful of experimenting evangelistically or developing new evangelistic tools? What keeps you from innovating on your campus?