There this little literary avalanche called The Fault In Our Stars. If you haven’t ever heard of it, you will, but chances are if you read blogs you have read the book. You have also probably seen the movie.
The fine folks at Fast Company recently published an article on author John Green’s personal approach to becoming huge. While this will be good for all hard at work writers, I wonder if it doesn’t have wider implications that could benefit the church.
These are the six ways that Green described as building his audience (which is large, loyal and growing). If writing best sellers weren’t his gig, I bet that if he had planted a church…it would’ve been huge as well.
Commit to what you are doing, not the outcome. When John and his brother started, they were using Youtube to build a following. For the first 120 videos, they had 200 viewers. When it came to growth, it was all about timing. They weren’t trying to be huge. They actually valued their 200 viewers. They took that number seriously. Their more than 1.5 billion views began with their approach to those early numbers. Start small and take small seriously, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.”
It needs to matter to you as well.
Phoniness is Deadly
Wisely, Green says, “All you can be is you.” It’s not about dressing correctly, or growing a soul patch. You don’t have to have church in a bar or a strip club to be hip. You have to be you. If you are truly being you, then people will understand what they don’t like. At the same time, they will love what they love about you. You won’t ever have to wear plaid just because that’s what the hipsters are wearing.
I’m bald. That’s all I can be. I have three kids and a tired disposition. I can’t start preaching like Mary Poppins or Rob Bell. You shouldn’t either.
Unless you happen to be Mary Poppins or Rob Bell.
Be An Open Book
“Sharing your life–adversity and all–makes an audience genuinely care”
Church Leaders need to step out from behind the veil and lead openly. People are drawn in because their leaders struggle, too. Here’s the thing: if no one has to be OZ, then anyone can learn to lead.
We like to believe that other people are just like us, even if they happen to be further down the road. The further down the road, the more I believe they can lead me…especially if they experienced the same kind of struggles and issues that I am going through.
Don’t Settle For Ordinary
Seriously, look around your church for things that are done just because they’ve always been done that way and stop doing them. You will grow immediately. More people are inspired by surprise than you think. Change is art form, but you only learn art by creating it.
Most church leaders I talk to are frustrated beyond belief because their are too many holy heifers and not enough alters. Ordinary will kill you. I suggest you kill it first.
Use Your Audience For Good
Mission is more than check writing, it’s the reason you exist. In a few short weeks, my church will be ready to roll out a bold mission statement that I am already waking up early in the morning to be a part of.
People want to be attached to something that adds value. something that inspires their soul. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but regular life empties our buckets. You have an opportunity to connect people to the greatest bucket filler that exists in the cosmos.
As a result, We have committed to run marathons for clean water in Africa with Team World Vision. Over 40 runners have raised tens of thousands of dollars, over funded water projects and have managed to lose a few pounds.
Why do you exist? Is it about miles on the road? Or butts in the pews?
To quote my favorite church leader/blogging pastor, Carey Nieuwhof, be committed to change in a rapidly changing world. How can the tidal movement of culture inform who you are reaching and how you are reaching them? How does radio effect your worship? Film your environment? TV your approach to communication?
Did you know that people love to listen to sermons? They do…they’re just called TED talks. Have you considered creating 18 minute stand alone blow your mind homilies? Soon I will publish a post on Bastille’s Pompeii. Did you know that pop music is asking questions that the church won’t?
Who are you learning from? Who is encouraging you to change your approach? What is your next book? Your next post? Do you draw? If not, why aren’t you painting? Ever hear of Jackson Pollack? Jimmy Buffett used to surf all day before recording his records. What do you do before you write a sermon?
In the words of the erstwhile theologian Mick Jaggar, “Start me up.” Get going. Create. Your people, your staff, your family, your soul will thank you.
How can any one of these six Faults In Our Stars change the way you approach your ministry world today?
PS: I wasn’t just being ironic with the title, it could’ve gone either way.