“Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response” http://bible.us/2Thess3.1.MSG
And that’s exactly what it did in the early days of the New Testament Church. But today we face slow declines. We bemoan the loss of Biblical values in the culture and it’s hard to see churches struggle to survive. But the worst part is that the message no longer races through the country, person to person, house to house, village to village, country to country.
Yesterday at Bridge Church we talked about how to have viral faith as part of our Core Practices message series. We know about viral things mainly from our favorite Youtube Videos that have been passed around through our social networks and email inboxes. Seth Godin mentions 4 things that have to be present for some content to go viral. His list is instructive in relation to the spread of the Gospel:
1. The content has to be understood. Recently our Association partnered with the LA Baptist Convention on a first of its kind opinion poll related to Northshore residents views on religion and church. One of the questions was: “How can a person become a Christian.” Over 80% could not explain how to become a Christian in the estimation of the operator. But interestingly enough only 31% of self-identified Southern Baptist, 34% of non-denominational, 8% of charismatics, 15% of Methodists could give a clear answer. Good question: Do I understand the gospel and can I explain it in a way that others can understand and can pass along?
2. There has to be a desire for others to know about it. We tend to pass on and create buzz about what is important to us. Today, church leaders are in the buzz creating business, but usually it’s creating buzz about programs that will keep us coming to church. There’s little desire to see the Gospel set people free around us. It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” Do I have a desire for others to know Christ? As a church leader is there a growing desire in my church for others to know?
3. There’s a belief that passing it on has personal and corporate benefits. What’s the benefits to spreading the Gospel? We have to look deeper than the skin and we have to be willing to look to others. There’s great benefit to obeying Jesus, like his promised presence with us and eternal reward for faithfulness (Matthew 28:19-20, John 14:21 & 23). And there’s the benefit to society of a message that can transform people and cultures. In our concern to fit church into people’s schedule and keep them coming through tangible earthly benefits, have we lost the viral advantage of eternal benefits and an other’s centered perspective on life (Philippians 2:3-4).
4. It can be spread affordably. Here’s a product that’s free and can be spread for absolutely free if so desired. It’s free to us and free to spread, but a high price was paid for us to have the opportunity to know and make it known. Jesus paid it all. Our cost now: people’s opinions of us – “I don’t want people to think I’m a fanatic”, time – “I’m just so busy”, concern for others – “That’s their problem, not mine.” Small prices to pay comparatively.
This week I’ll be sharing some practical ways to go Viral with your faith.