Seth’s Secret to Viral Church Planting

If you are involved in church planting and have never heard of Seth Godin, you need to pay attention.

Seth Godin

Seth writes mostly about new marketing but I think you’ll find his ideas are refreshingly compatible with Biblically healthy church practices.

This morning I ran across a post Seth wrote a couple of years ago called First, ten. Check it out and let me know in the comments how his marketing “secret” applies to church planters and leaders:

First, ten

This, in two words, is the secret of the new marketing.

Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you…

Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat.

If they don’t love it, you need a new product. Start over.

Your idea spreads. Your business grows. Not as fast as you want, but faster than you could ever imagine.

This approach changes the posture and timing of everything you do.

You can no longer market to the anonymous masses. They’re not anonymous and they’re not masses. You can only market to people who are willing participants. Like this group of ten.

The timing means that the idea of a ‘launch’ and press releases and the big unveiling is nuts. Instead, plan on the gradual build that turns into a tidal wave. Organize for it and spend money appropriately. The fact is, the curve of money spent (big hump, then it tails off) is precisely backwards to what you actually need.

Three years from now, this advice will be so common as to be boring. Today, it’s almost certainly the opposite of what you’re doing.

This post jumped out at me this morning because it is how I approach church planting. I find it remarkably similar to Jesus’ method of primarily investing in 12 men. It reminds me of 2 Timothy 2:2. Funny how, as Seth says, “it’s almost certainly the opposite of what you’re doing.”

What do you think? Is this the opposite of what you are doing? How does this post change (or clarify) the way you approach your ministry? 

HT: Copyblogger

Nathan is the pastor of City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY. He and his family are committed to making and multiplying disciples in the most diverse county in the US. Read more about Nathan here. Visit the City Life Church website here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Jeremy Riggs

    As a first time church planter that is building a team, this post is captivating. But when he speaks of changing the product if they don’t like it–isn’t our “product” the gospel? Or is it our philosophy and approach?

    • Anonymous

      Jeremy, that’s where the discernment comes in for church leaders. We wouldn’t change our “product”. On the other hand, is there anything we can improve in how we share the gospel? For example, if you hand out tracts on the street corner and found that it wasn’t really connecting with many people, we might try a different approach.

  • Jim Land

    We are considering a new church plant right now and we are doing essentially doing what Seth is saying, I’ll let you know how it turns out

    • Anonymous

      That’s great Jim. I’m looking forward to hearing back from you!

  • Twon Mai

    Makes sense!