What the Church Can Learn from Seth Godin (Summit Recap Day 1)

What the Church Can Learn from Seth Godin (Summit Recap Day 1)

Seth Godin strolled onto the stage to deliver the opening keynote for Summit 2018. Sporting his trademark yellow glasses and a purple tie with space-rockets, he looks completely at ease in front of an audience of 1,100 church leaders and staff. Although Seth is a bestselling author and a household name in the world of business—earning him the title: “Godfather of Modern Marketing”—some might think him an odd candidate to deliver a presentation at one of the biggest church growth conferences of the year.

After all, he never once used the name “Jesus” in his entire presentation.

An Unorthodox Solution

Seth became a master of digital marketing during the industry’s early days in the 1990s. In fact, he practically invented the field. With more than 18 bestselling books on his resume, Seth’s ideas have been shared and debated in business boardrooms, academia, and beyond. His blog is one of the most popular—and shared—in the world.

But you might still be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, but what does the Godfather of Modern Marketing have to say to the church?” The answer is simple: Churches and businesses are facing a similar problem. In a world where the average internet user is bombarded with an endless stream of information every day, it’s difficult for organizations like the church to cut through the noise with messages that actually matter.

So how do they do that? How does the message of the church “hit home”?

Speaking from the business world, Seth draws from his expertise to work out something of a solution:

Be a Purple Cow

Cows are boring. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. A whole field of them may provoke no more than a yawn.

But what if, mixed in with a cluster of black and white bovines, you spotted a purple cow.
Most likely, you’d stop the car and jump out to get a better look. You might even leap the fence to try to touch the thing. Finally, you’d tell others about it, either by sharing a selfie on social media or recalling the story at a dinner party. After their initial disbelief, they’d share it with their friends. And on and on.

Seth calls this the “tribe.” The tribe is a group of people who share a story, and this supplies them with a common vernacular and sense of belonging. “It turns out, people want to belong,” says Seth. People don’t want standard treatment. People aren’t average, and churches should know this better than anyone. What better place to belong than in the church, where we all participate in God’s story of goodness and grace?

See Your People

In a world where people are bombarded with a million different messages for what products they “need,” thriving brands understand how to connect with others and how to build a tribe.  
He says of tribes: “That’s why people are showing up. To be seen.” When it comes to the church space, people come together to be authentically seen. That’s what it means to share a story. And when people can belong together in a place of need, then great, creative things can happen that change the world. It turns out, Seth has a lot of wisdom to share with the church after all.

Here Are Some of Seth’s Choice Quotes

  • “What we fear, what each of us fear so deeply, is that person that comes up to us and says you’re not as good as you think you are. So you back down.”
  • “This revolution isn’t about cheaper and faster. That revolution already happened. This revolution is about connection.”
  • “If failure is not an option, neither is success. The person who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.”