Saturday, March 3, 2007

The China Problem Redux


I was reading Seth Godin's blog this evening regarding what he calls "the China problem." He notes how he was at the vet and saw a brochure for an injectable tracking device for dogs. He imagines how the marketing gurus got together and figured if they could just make a buck off of each dog in the United States they'd be rolling in the dough.


"It sounds reasonable. It's not," he says.


"The problem with huge markets is the same problem you'd have playing squash or racquetball on a court that's too big. The ball doesn't have a wall to bounce off of. Huge horizontal markets have no echo chamber, no niches, no easy entry points. To make a system like this work, everyone has to agree on the technology and then there has to be a huge push to get millions of people to make the same decision at about the same time. It might work, but it's awfully expensive.

Small markets aren't as sexy, but they're actually a better place to start."

It got me thinking about evangelism. By evangelism, I mean telling other people about the message of Jesus Christ. I've struggled lately with the methods and motives of evangelism; both the way I feel and the way I perceive others. Sometimes I think the Church (by capital "C" church I mean the worldwide body of followers of Jesus Christ) stands on the highest hilltop and screams out for others to hear the message, believe the message, and do as it says. Is that wrong? Well, it depends on what day of the week you ask me that question. However, in general, I'd say no. I think it's like the "China problem" Seth mentioned - "it might work."


But I think the small markets (aka friend, co-worker, etc.), these people you encounter during the daily traffic patterns of life, who see you in good and bad, with whom you have built trust and a genuine friendship - well aren't these the entryways, the small markets, that offer a better place to start?


I think that with many people we have to "earn" the right to tell the gospel. Not always, but many times. Otherwise it has cost us nothing in their eyes. And much of the time that first step may be merely to reach out as a genuine human caring for another. Not with the intention of befriending someone to later tell your gospel, but to love them because of your gospel.


May we love because it's what we are called to do.


Mike

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