Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Review (#12 of 2009)

According to BusinessWeek, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell has been the #1 long-run business bestseller for a long time. I didn't find a cheap copy until Christmas, and didn't start it until about a week ago.

I greatly enjoyed this book, especially the first 3/4 of it. Gladwell has recently taken flack for some of his work from economist Bill Easterly, been criticized by Seth Godin, and ridiculed by basketball fans for some things Bill Simmons quoted him saying. So, I'm sure one can find all kinds of details that are questionable in his book... like talking only about William Dawes and Paul Revere while never mentioning Samuel Prescott...

Anyway, the Tipping Point is actually about church planting. When I get some time I'd like to search the interwebs and see who this book helped in thinking about their churches. Gladwell only uses examples of churches in one place (explaining how John Wesley's model was so successful, experiencing exponential reproduction) and probably isn't a Christian. But his observations of natural phenomenon from sociology to various human organizations give us some things to think about.

Church planters should use his book to ask:
1. How can I make the message more sticky?
2. Who are my Connectors...those people who just seem to know everyone?
3. Who are my Mavens, people who others go to for advice or for expert opinions on what book to read or what car to buy?
4. Who are my Salesmen, those natural evangelists?
5. How can I think about myself and my congregation in context? People behave one way in one context, and another way in another context. This is just a fact. How can I better understand how this behavior affects the dynamic of my church?
6. Why is my church more than 150 people? No church should ever be bigger than 150. Through the centuries everyone from generals to the Fortune 500 have figured this out... but churches don't seem to.

I didn't like the last couple chapters, found them a little bit tough to stretch the rest of the book around. But the book is great for encouraging thinking and discussion. And if you want to know how children shows like Sesame Street and Blue's Clues developed, this is your book.

4 stars out of 5.

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