That’s how I came across it. It’s amazing how connected The Church is becoming. It makes me think Jesus will make a visit in my lifetime.
That may be the most compelling video on wearing a seat belt I’ve ever seen, other than the accident scene in Seven Pounds, which also doubles as a deterrent to texting, emailing, tweeting, etc. while behind the wheel.
For all of my creative friends out there see what Will had to say about grabbing attention.
In Church Unique, I cover the integration principle, “Grab attention or hold nothing.” According to studies as reported in the book, The Attention Economy, there are four primary factors for getting attention. I immediate thought of these four things as I watched this video.
Four Keys to Really Get Attention
1. Is the communication personalized?
2. Is the communication coming from a trustworthy source?
3. Is the communication brief?
4. Is the communication emotional?
In the case of this video, it is not necessarily personalized, but it does feel very personal. The trustworthiness of the source is carried by the quality production and the “embrace life” message and logo. The brevity and emotion of the piece are stunning.
If I could impact as strongly with the gospel in as short an amount of time shouldn’t I be willing to invest in the effort and time to produce such a message? Or does the ego just get in the way?
A friend of mine has a non-profit in which he raises money to provide academic scholarships to kids in South Africa. It’s a terrific organization doing terrific work. He raises funds on the platform of Academic Equality, and mostly mobilizes college students to host parties and fundraisers then works closely with students who are being provided scholarships. As he started his organization, I couldn’t help but notice it grew much more quickly than The Mentoring Project, an organization I started to provide positive male role models for kids growing up without fathers. I couldn’t help but wonder why.
As my friend and I talked about it, we wondered whether organizations that simply raise money in America and send that money overseas weren’t easier to grow because, quite frankly, they don’t require you to change the way you actually live? I know that sounds harsh, but think about it, if you could feel like a humanitarian for simply wearing a t-shirt and attending an occasional rally or updating your facebook status, or if you could feel like a humanitarian for taking a few hours a week out of your life and working with an actual child in an after-school program, which would you rather do? In other words, would you rather wear a t-shirt that says you are a humanitarian, or would you rather be a humanitarian?
My friend shared with me a term he’d learned that summed up our current dilemma: Slacktivism.
Are you a slacktivist?
Now to be fair, organizations building wells and freeing child soldiers and stopping sex-trafficking are doing extremely important work, but I don’t think we should feel all that altruistic for throwing them a twenty in exchange for a t-shirt. People need more than money, they need other people.
What if you laid out all your non-profit t-shirts and asked how you were directly dealing with the issue? And what if you no longer considered yourself altruistic unless the causes you supported were actually making your life more complicated? What if slacktivism wasn’t actually social change? What if it was just another way of exploiting the poor and marginalized, using them to foster our own false identity as humanitarians?
Does your activism cost you anything besides money? And in exchange for that money, do you get a social commodity and identity as an activist?
I meet with lots of lost people every week who are in dire financial struggles, who are living a life handed down to them for generations. A life that includes:
Moving into a residence that they could afford if they didn’t smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.
Staying in a residence as long as possible until they receive a seven day eviction notice at which time the scramble begins.
They either miraculously coming up with the funds to pay the back rent or
Move into another more affordable shelter only to repeat the same thing a month later.
They have either had their electric or water cut off at least once, and typically receive multiple cut-off notices in a given year.
What I have discovered is they didn’t just decide to live this way, but saw their parents do the same thing. They were children who have had 25 different addresses who in Mrs. Thompson’s second grade class couldn’t remember their phone number, because it had changed again. Most of them know no other way to live.
They have used the church as a financial means to rescue them from circumstances because the church most likely refused to do anything other than just pay their bills. We’ve allowed them to play the victimization card instead of changing the game because writing checks is far easier than holding them accountable. So, we’ve become enablers instead of change agents when it comes to the poor.
In reality, these people need freedom from a cycle of living that has proven oppressive and hopeless. They need freedom from being consumed with what they want and given a chance to see what they need. They need a friend who is willing to say, “No. I’m not going to give you what you asked for, but I’m going to dig deeper into the crap that is your life in order to shine the light of Jesus on that which is broken and even wicked.”
We, the Church, need to risk being their friend even when much of the time it ends in rejection, or it involves time, effort, money and risk. We, the Church, need to be willing to invest in their conversion.
“The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” – Acts 3:5-6 NLT
I wish this approach had multiple success stories, but the truth of the matter is that if there is change it is not immediately obvious. This leads to the temptation to just write checks and dismiss the people as hopeless. However, when I look at the life of Jesus Christ the Nazarene there is no evidence of “easy grace.” So, why then do we expect it to be easy? Especially when we’re not Jesus…