Monday, November 28, 2011

Make It Personal (Mr. Mellencamp)

When I’m not writing posts for Follow Illustrated, I write great marketing content for professionals.  One of the best ways I’ve promoted my own business is through my ebook, SPROUTS – marketing ideas you can put to work now.  (Go ahead, check it out!) Behind SPROUTS is the idea that most businesses have a significant network already built up around them that they can energize very easily – and often at a very low cost.  Similarly, through my 20 years in the ministry, I’ve seen that the most effective evangelism and “church growth” efforts are the organic, friend-to-friend kind.  It is a very rare thing for a person with no prior connections to just show up at church on a Sunday morning.  Most of the time, church visitors come with friends.  The same is true of faith in Jesus.  Occasionally, a pastor is effective enough that a listener will realize what the Holy Spirit has been saying to them, but far more often, people come to saving faith in Jesus because they have seen Him at work in other people’s lives.

I want to briefly share my first SPROUT with you, a personal story I call “the John Mellencamp Factor”.  I don’t particularly care for Mr. Mellencamp’s music.  As a singer, Mellencamp is immaterial to me.  But I always pay attention when one of his songs comes on the radio or he appears on TV. Always.  Why?  I just happen to personally know the craftsman who built a high-value custom kitchen for the Cougar.  Mellencamp is interesting to me because I know something about him that creates a connection between us – thin as it may be.  Let’s catch a word from our Sponsor about social connections and then wrap this up.
Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, "We've found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It's Jesus, Joseph's son, the one from Nazareth!" Nathanael said, "Nazareth? You've got to be kidding."
But Philip said, "Come, see for yourself." (John 1:45-46)
Like all people, Christians are social animals.  Remember, God said “It is not good for the man to be alone”. (Genesis 2:18)  We are created to live in community with one another.  Although belief in Jesus is a deeply personal thing, Christianity is best when it is a shared experience.  Jesus called disciples to follow Him and those disciples (later called the apostles) personally shared their stories of life with Jesus, launching Christianity.  (That’s what the Gospels are all about.)  The story of your personal relationship with God is deeply meaningful to others.  Followers of Jesus look for opportunities to share their faith.

In our modern culture with mass electronic communication and more information than can ever be consumed, the personal experience is even more powerful than ever before – it’s like a light in the world-wide darkness.  I can illustrate this with Facebook.  I launched this blog in September 2011.  For a month and a half, I struggled to get even a handful of hits daily.  When I opened a profile on Facebook my hits grew, but were still small.  However, when someone reads my blog and “likes” it or shares a link to it on Facebook, the visitor count skyrockets.  Did the content change?  Not at all.  But the “Mellencamp Factor” kicked in.  I’m supposed to be a strong advocate for my blog, but when others speak positively about it, your friends really believe you.  What you care about matters to others.  I’d like to say that is genius marketing strategy, but it’s just simply the way God created us.

So what’s your story?  How has following Jesus made a difference in your life?  Others will care about Jesus (and follow Him) because YOU care about Jesus and follow Him.  Let’s light this Facebook candle!  Click the “F” logo below, share this link on Facebook, but most importantly, share your story today – write a few words (or many, like I do) and tell your friends what following Jesus means to you.  It will mean something to them because it is personal to you.

Clark H Smith

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