I got an e-mail from Mark Batterson earlier this week asking me to contribute to an article he is writing on creating a BUZZ. He asked me, “I basically want you to share some “buzz ideas” with readers. Tell me about one or two ways you have created buzz internally or externally.” So, here is what I told him. What do you think?
When I think about how we create a BUZZ at Community Christian Church my first instincts were to think about INNOVATION and being first. We were one of the first to be a multi-site church; we were the first to offer a multi-site practicum to other churches. We created this cool way of teaching all age groups and all our locations called the BIG IDEA. Then we created a whole collaborative network around the BIG IDEA that includes churches from Denver, Detroit, New York and Boston. We are the only church I know that produces an on-location “short film” every week as a BIG IDEA teaching product. We’re also the only church I know that has a weekly phone call from the Lead Pastor to which people can subscribe to get a summary of the BIG IDEA. Our Yellow Box at our Napervile location was one of the first church facilities designed as a “third place”… I could go on. I love innovation, creativity and being the first; and it definitely creates a BUZZ! But I don’t think that creates the biggest BUZZ
Then I started thinking about TECHNOLOGY. By using the bleeding edge technology you definitely create a BUZZ. And we are blogging and podcasting and I have a myspace and I’m LinkedIn. I love all that, and no doubt it creates a BUZZ. But I don’t think that creates the biggest BUZZ.
I think the biggest BUZZ we created in the last year has been from LOVE. I know that it sounds like a cheesy ending to a 3-point sermon, but I mean it. I think we got more word-of-mouth enthusiasm from loving people than anything else we did. There are examples of what we are doing in neighborhood schools or new locations we are starting in Chicago but let me give you the latest example. In the last couple years we had a family in our church start a ministry in Rwanda. It began when they took in a Rwandan refugee and then the next year visited Rwanda. They were so moved by the need in that country since the genocide they came back and set up a ministry called Global Family Rescue. GFR set up a model for families to survive and start their own business for $59/month. The cool part was that after three years these families were able to make their businesses self-sustaining. We got behind what they were doing and people began to BUZZ. So many people got behind it that it got the attention of Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hotel manager from the movie Hotel Rwand. He offered to come to our city and doing a fundraiser for free! Feel the BUZZ! Over the next couple weeks I got interviewed by 3 local newspapers and one Chicago paper. It got some great support from Christian radio stations and large Chicago stations like WGN. I got a call from our City Manager to say “thank you for your leadership in our community”. We packed the local college auditorium with more than 1000 people from all over the area. It felt like literally everyone in our community was talking about it! And we raised another $150,000 in sponsorships for new businesses for families in Rwanda. And the result of the fundraiser was such a success we got more free press! People are BUZZing!
What do you think created the biggest BUZZ around CCC in the last year or so?