I am, if nothing else, an eclectic podcast listener. Miami traffic is brutal, and many hours stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic are spent listening to podcasts. Everything from Making Disciples, EOFire, Vergecast, Carey Nieuwhof, Marinate on That, Office Ladies, Filmspotting... I've found traffic time is not wasted if I'm listening to podcasts. During one of these recent traffic sessions God spoke to me through Seth Godin. Bet you didn't see that coming...
On a recent episode, Seth was asked a question (by someone from Romania) that hit surprisingly close to home: "If you were to start over now in 2020, what steps would you follow to build an audience that you go deep with? What is the right medium to expose yourself? What base would it be okay to do it so that you also build momentum and at the same time take advantage of the media algorithms that are affecting our work?" Seth's answer may surprise some of you...
What's the smallest viable audience, the smallest group of people that you could connect with, that you could inspire, that you could change, that you could make a living with and for that would sustain you on your journey? Because the answer is not a billion people. It might not even be 100 million people or 10 million people or a million people. And the place we begin getting trapped is saying this is for everyone. "It's so good. It's for everyone." How do I get the word out? The alternative is to say, "It's for someone." How can I be specific?
Seth Godin, Akimbo Podcast
What Seth eloquently states here is there will never be another Beatles. Never again will one person have the popularity of Michael Jackson. Today, even rock gods like U2 pale in comparison with some of their early pioneers of Rock. Far be it for me to squash the musical influence of Prince, or Coldplay, in today's era. Music is a prime example of genres becoming sub-genres becoming sub-sub-genres. A simple Google search found over 40 Rock sub-genres, and I for one can appreciate the minutia differences between Acid Rock, Death Metal, Doom Metal, Gothic Metal, and Spazzcore. In a world where there is so many options to solve so many desires, is it really possible for everyone to truly love a single band?
While it was once achievable for Beatles or Michael Jackson to achieve musical-godlike status, 2020 culture has broken us all down into smaller sections. You'll never be able to reach everyone... make them all happy... Think about it. When is the last time we as an entire people agreed on anything? You want us all to agree on a musical style? That's not happening.
This is what Seth Godin understands, better than most. If you want to impact the world, you don't try to impact a billion people. If you want to impact the world, you impact an individual, and then do it again and again and again. In 2020, you're not dealing with one giant world... you're dealing with many, many, many smaller groups of people within our world. Reach people in their sub-genre'd lifestyle.
I've enjoyed hanging out with my new friends at Stadia. Thankfully, they have (in a very short period of time) started to put a framework around my thoughts on Digital Church. Stadia speaks often of "the One"... as Stadia helps plant physical churches around the world they train the Church Planters to recognize who their "One" is. What is the purpose of your church? Who are you trying to reach?
Conversations like this used to frustrate me. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul speaks to adapting/becoming what is necessary for the cause of Christ. "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." In 2020, society is so bifurcated, or trifurcated, or multi-furcated, ironically, that attempts to squeeze the world into that single shoe... well, it just doesn't work! Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Not arguing that. However, we, the Church, need to contextually adapt. We need to find our "One" and go after them with the intensity of the shepherd leaving behind the 99 for his one sheep. Our message to the One is, and should always be, Christ. Our methods to reach our One should vary, as in 2020 it takes different methods to reach different Ones.
Seth is giving us the answer. Want to make big changes? Think multiples of small. The Apostle Paul would agree with Seth Godin. In 2 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy “‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’” For the Gospel to spread, Paul's encouraging Timothy to disciple others, just as Paul discipled Timothy, so the idea of the Gospel would spread. Multiple teachers teaching multiples of others. One message, Christ, presented in multiple ways.
2020 is no different. Church, in 2020 help your people find their personal mission. Help people find their One. This is how the Gospel grows in 2020... through all of us reaching our One.