Wow! My husband rferred to this blog this morning and passed it on to me. It is from a marketer, Seth Godin, who really hits the nail on the head. We as the church do have to compete with the world, and if this is what they are learning, then lets listen and learn.
I got more mail about this story in the Washington Post than any other non-blog topic ever. I saw it when it first came out, but didn't blog it because I thought the lesson was pretty obvious to my readers. [World-class violinist plays for hours in a subway station, almost no one stops to listen]. The experiment just proved what we already know about context, permission and worldview. If your worldview is that music in the subway isn't worth your time, you're not going to notice when the music is better than usual (or when a famous violinist is playing). It doesn't match the story you tell yourself, so you ignore it. Without permission to get through to you, the marketer/violinist is invisible.
But why all the mail? (And the Post got plenty too). Answer: I think it's because people realized that if they had been there, they would have done the same thing. And it bothers us.
It bothers us that we're so overwhelmed by the din of our lives that we've created a worldview that requires us to ignore the outside world, most of the time, even when we suffer because of it. It made me feel a little smaller, knowing that something so beautiful was ignored because the marketers among us have created so much noise and so little trust.
I don't think the answer is to yell louder. Instead, I think we have an opportunity to create beauty and genius and insight and offer it in ways that train people to maybe, just maybe, loosen up those worldviews and begin the trust.
I think there are alot of churches in the U.S. that get it, and thousands of people enter their doors because they have used marketing to gain permission to share the gospel. Many of these are the curches so many criticize because they are big. You don't have to be big to reach the world, but if you keep on reaching and are teaching others to learn how to gain permission to share the gospel, then you will continue to grow in numbers in some way. I say that if you are not trying to be big(for the sake of winning as many to Christ as you can) then you care more about feeling comfortable in your church environment than you are about people destined for hell. So to those mega churches who are gaining permission, and those small ones who are doing everything to get the lost in their doors, (and wreaking havock at the gates of hell), I say, "You go guys!!"