The churches I’ve attended love to generate buzz. Buzz attracts people. Buzz injects life into the movement. Sometimes, buzz leads to change.However, buzz is fleeting. Seth Godin’s post about trade show and conference strategy isn’t necessarily about churches, but it did give me a new phrase to articulate something that’s been missing in most of the church activities I’ve attended over the last 25+ years: powerful personal interactions. In the Bible, Jesus certainly generated buzz, but the gospels are also littered with one-on-one conversations featuring Jesus blowing people’s minds with honesty, tough questions, wisdom, forgiveness, and love. Why don’t these conversations happen more often when Christians get together? Are they happening somewhere out of sight and I’m just not in on them? I do know this: I’m way more comfortable talking about church life and strategy than I am confessing my sin and talking about Jesus’s work in my life. Perhaps Christians like me have grown so comfortable with churchy banter that we’ve lost the capacity to initiate and conduct these Jesus-level conversations. Jesus calls us together so that he can express himself through our words to each other. Jesus promised this when he said “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” If we are unwilling or unable to express the things Jesus is telling us and the ways that we are following Jesus, then his expression will be stifled. I have a hunch that if churches forgot about public buzz for a while, and instead focused on encouraging and multiplying these powerful personal interactions, Jesus would express himself in some miraculous ways. Miracles generated quite a bit of buzz for Jesus back in the day, and I think they could do the same today.
By the way, I’m not the only one. Jennifer seems to be feeling a similar pull toward transformative conversations. Neil has his own explanation for why these types of interactions are so rare.