Who Are Your Fans?

NY Jets fans
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/4029349282/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Ed Yourdon</a>

Mark 1: 14-20

Then, when John was arrested, Jesus returned to Galilee where he started working toward the goal. “It starts now,” he said. “The goal is close. Turn your life around! It’s going to be awesome.”

As Jesus went along the Galilean seashore, he saw brothers Simon and Andy, fishermen, casting nets in the sea. He said to them, “Follow me and I’ll show you how to capture people’s hearts. Without hesitating, they followed him. A little further on he saw Jim and John Zebedee in their boat fixing nets. As soon as he saw them, he called them, too. And they left their father and their hired help and followed him.

[See also previous comments pertaining to verses 14-15, The Only Way to Start, and on verses 16-20, Paradox of Opportunity. You may also be interested in previous comments (and a video) on the parallel passage in Matthew 4:18-25, First Followers.]

Not even Jesus can go it alone. World-changing work requires community. Even “building community” requires community. Whether you’re a church, a company, a school, service club, a family, or a not-for-profit whatever agency – the first thing you need (even before you need money!) is community engagement.

Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly (founding editor of Wired Magazine) wrote that a successful enterprise needs 1000 true fans. That’s a much larger endeavor than the vast majority of churches. So really, the number is probably much less than that. Jesus settled on 12.

12 is doable for most people. Start, like Jesus, with just four.  You’ll get there. It’s not really about the number, it’s about the quality of the relationship, and the shared mission in which you’re engaged. 12 people (or just 4) who are highly engaged in capturing people’s hearts can go a long way. So, then again, if you’re really in the business of capturing people’s hearts, whose to say 1000 fans is out of reach? In a conversation last year with Mark Behan about a church looking to “re-brand” itself he said, “Your greatest asset is the people who are already sitting in your pews.” They are your true fans. If they don’t engage, no one will, but if a small company of the committed are willing to leave everything to follow their calling, you can do just about anything.

Every endeavor that sets out to change the world, or even a little rural village in upstate New York, or on the Kansas prairies, or a forgotten neighborhood in East LA, or an affluent suburb of Austin starts with three or four people, maybe 12, who have a vision and are ready to leave everything they have to make it happen.

Is that you?

[Bonus: Think about your community’s “fan base.” It may be larger than you think. What about all those fans who are on the inactive roles, and the non-resident fans? What about the people who come just for special occasions? Weddings and funerals? People who turn up at the chicken and biscuit dinner? Chances are, they’re not going to be your Peters and Jameses. But many of them may be leaving the doors of their hearts open to being (re)captured. Even the ones who are a pain in the butt are still engaged, and in an age when attention is at a premium, you’ve got theirs. I’m not saying you should change your “business model” for them. You shouldn’t. But you’re missing an opportunity if you’re pretending they’re not there.]

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