I’ve been reading some odd stuff lately. Not odd as in strange, odd as in outside my norm. Mostly I read theology and Bible. My friends know that I read Hauerwas. Some say I’ve picked up some of his habits. However, I don’t really curse and I have remained somewhat likable. I guess I’m still on my way to perfection.
Among the books I’ve read recently that fall outside my norm: Seth Godin’s Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. It is another short offering from Godin, which is nice for those of us who like to cherry pick ideas and attempt to run with them. Godin’s argument in Purple Cow is pretty simple. The book is about marketing. Marketing, as a field, is changing. The old methods aren’t working as well anymore. Television advertising doesn’t affect audiences the same way. Godin is offering a different way to think about marketing in hopes of spurring his readers on to greatness in product development and design over and against shockingly obscene or (seemingly) compelling mundane advertising. If you have a quality product and are able to see that product adopted by the right people, then the product will, in effect, sell itself.
Here are some of the terms Godin lists as being essential in traditional forms of marketing:
Godin thinks all of these are great, but he suggests adding a new P to the equation: Purple Cow. The concept is simple, and he uses a parable to illustrate it. Imagine driving through a countryside in beautiful France. There are cows on every hillside, grazing, and the beauty is captivating. At first, you are in awe, but after a while, the awe fades. But a Purple Cow? That would catch your attention. And be interesting (for a while).
A Purple Cow would catch our attention because it would be remarkable. Godin even says he would simply list “remarkable” as a marketing concept, but it doesn’t start with P. So he went with Purple Cow instead.
When it comes to being the church, we’re not in the marketing business. But we are called to be remarkable. The beauty of our calling to be remarkable is that it is a gift of divine grace that is spurred along by our willingness to undertake certain disciplines that transform us more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Salvation is in itself quite remarkable. Unfortunately, we have allowed it to become boring (after a while).
The challenge for followers of Jesus is to recapture the awe that comes with knowing Jesus and following him. Then we have the opportunity to creatively discern ways to communicate that to others.
Though this has been said in other places in similar ways, this remark from Godin challenged me in how I think about ministry:
Challenge your people to start with a blank sheet of paper and figure out what they’d do if they could do just about anything. If they weren’t afraid of failing, what’s the most audacious thing they’d try?
If you’re in church leadership, take risks, and challenge your people to do the same. I hope that the church would not only be known as a peculiar people, but a remarkable people, who offer the eternal life that begins in this life and extends into the next. In the process of living this kind of life, I pray that we would creatively act as agents of God’s Kingdom, living an outrageously compelling discipleship to the God we worship as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
By grace, we can be remarkable. And the glory should be given to the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift.