Yesterday's comments encouraged and sharpened me! The beauty of the blogference lies in its ability to include a broad range of participants that a physical conference rarely includes.
If you have the time, I would encourage you to check out the online radio show Dan Birch and I hosted yesterday--Moving From a Tool to Tools Mentality in Evangelism. It can easily be added to iTunes to be savored at a later time :) Alex Costa graciously called in and shared some challenging thoughts with us.
One of the realizations I recently made is how similar our role on staff is to an entrepreneur. I'm not sure why it took me so long to make that connection. Actually if you have yet to think of your role on staff as such I'd encourage you to read one of my posts from last year on Redeeming Our Apostolic Calling.
As I scour many entrepreneur blogs I realize they possess two things that are often in short supply in CCC: money and courage. Many of them have learned valuable lessons that can be applied to ministry and evangelism.
Josh Kopelman, a Venture Capitalist and entrepreneur, brings to light the importance of free in the process of any new venture:
Most entrepreneurs fall into the trap
of assuming that there is a consistent elasticity in price - that is,
the lower the price of what you're selling, the higher the demand will
be...The truth is, scaling from $5 to $50 million is not the toughest part of a new venture - it's getting your users to pay you anything at all. The biggest gap in any venture is that between a service that is free and one that costs a penny. --from his post The Penny Gap
When developing evangelistic tools, the same principle applies. Just as we seek to remove any intangible obstacles that a person faces in trusting Christ, we must remove any physical obstacles such as cost that can significantly restrict a Gospel tool's efficacy.
I love the steps our Global Short Film Network have taken to produce and distribute culturally relevant, high quality evangelistic short-films. My campus (Chico State in Northern California) used the films during our evangelism training time and our recent Spring semester outreach. However, when I apply Kopelman's Penny Gap (click to see diagram) to this evangelistic tool, I notice these things in relation to cost:
- They cost $1.99. Two bucks you say? What's the big deal: "I can't think of a single premium (meaning one that costs anything) service that has acheived truly viral distribution."--Kopelman. Cost inherently restricts distribution. An evangelistic tool cannot spread virally when it costs even a penny!
- They cost 8 Clicks: 1 click to go to site, 1 click to go to 'Films', 1 click or more to select the content I want, 1 click to check-out and proceed to payment, 1 click to register (assuming I'm a new customer), 1 click to sign up, 1 click to confirm payment, 1 click to start the download process. In internet time that compares to four hours in the real world--not exactly but you see what I mean.
- They cost cultural credibility: NOT in quality, BUT in platform. What comes to mind when you hear 'have you seen this YouTube video?' Probably some inappropriate things, but overall I think 'funny, universal, popular.' Let's be honest when a non-believer on campus hears 'Campus Crusade for Christ' I do not believe those same words come to mind.
- Viral Branding--Do something really cool and people will tell their friends.
- Viral Action--Do something that is really easy to spread to other people.
I would love to see evangelistic tools with viral action. Even our summer project videos do not have the kind of viral action they could.
- Type in the phrase 'campus crusade for christ summer project' into the search bar on YouTube. You get this, but why didn't this video come up? The title is 'Hooray Viral Video' It has an element of Viral Branding but severely lacks in Viral Action.
Brian: Why are you such a buzzkill when it comes to CCC videos?
- Because FREE, CULTURALLY RELEVANT, AND MASSIVELY POPULAR PLATFORMS exist--YouTube, Facebook, MySpace.
- Because FREE, CULTURALLY RELEVANT, AND MASSIVELY POPULAR CONTENT exists--Josh Otto, one of the staff here at Chico, shared how effective secular movie clips, shown on an portable media player could be in evangelism. He gave the example of the scene from The Dark Knight when the two boats faced the decision of whether to detonate the other and save themselves.
- Because The Penny Gap limits the transferability of ANY premium evangelistic tool. The beauty of the 4 Laws is in its transferability, as so many staff mentioned yesterday. To harness the power of social media in evangelism its has to have the viral action that facilitates transferability.
I'm hammering away on this one because I believe that there is someone out there with the ability to produce a culturally relevant, massively popular, viral action, evangelistic tool that could affect millions. Unless we as an organization die to this premium model philosophy in not only evangelism but in other areas as well (a great topic for the next blogference), we should not be surprised at our lackluster results in spite of a high investment of resources.
I do believe our videos are producing tremendous results. However, in light of the potential for viral content to scale (David After Dentist is currently at 18,679,668 views), I believe we have tremendous room for improvement.
Kelly Cain has some great thoughts on the power to use social media to create movements.
A few questions to kick-off the discussion:
- What are some physical obstacles you see in either our current tools or in developing new ones?
- Have you done anything in your ministry that would qualify as viral branding or viral action? What kinds of results did each produce?
- Have you experimented with using secular media as a means of starting an evangelistic conversation?
- What role has mobile (cell-phones, iPhones, blackberries, Zunes, iPods) played in evangelism on your campus or in your ministry? Where would you like to go with it? What would you like to do if you had money and courage?