December 29, 2016

The Power of Word of Mouth

Years ago, I worked for a brief time in marketing. The truth that we were not supposed to talk about was that word of mouth was incredibly more effective that print marketing.

As most readers know, we recently moved to Houston. A new friend shared with me twice in conversation how incredible the food scene was in Houston. The third time, he invited my wife and I out to dinner to show us how good the food in this city was.

I've been converted. Houston is an incredible city when it comes to food!

When it comes to spreading an idea, selling a product or starting a movement nothing is more powerful than word of mouth and invitation. The best sales person? The user or customer. The best marketing? The person that promotes a good to those in their circle.

Think of the power of the customer review(s) on Amazon or Yelp, for example. We are more apt to purchase something or go to a restaurant if there are multiple positive reviews from our peers, users like us.

Empower people to share and your chances to succeed increase. Possibly exponentially.

It is no different in churches. Teaching people how to talk about their faith is one of the most basic building blocks of discipleship, being the church. What we tend to do is talk at our people, rather than with them. When we do talk with each other it is most often in private spaces.

Healthy faith communities are made of spiritually healthy people. Spiritually healthy people can articulate their spiritual experience.

This does not mean quoting someone else's words or memorizing a script. It means having the ability to talk about one's spiritual journey in your own words. It has nothing to do with education, piety or devotion. But it does have a lot do with cultivating confidence and validating personal experience.

Even further, growing faith communities are made of people that know how to talk to others about their spiritual experience.

This has nothing to do with coercion. It has everything to do sharing value, specifically the personal value found in the gospel message.

Highly privatized or detached language/models of ministry will always have a short life span.

A few resources for those that this may have sparked an interest:

Invite. Welcome. Connect. (I actually think there is a significant difference between inviting people to church and evangelism but this is nonetheless an excellent resource)

More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren and Transforming Evangelism by David Gortner (Gortner, in particular, has some great group exercises--terrible book cover, though)