8 Insights from Seth Godin for Church Leaders

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Business Gets Personal event in NYC featuring Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and Dave Ramsey. I was the guest of Bryan Miles from eaHELP … they help leaders like you by providing North American based Executive Virtual Assistants that you can delegate tasks to, so you can focus on what’s important in your ministry. Want to learn more? Click here to download Michael Hyatt’s book on outsourcing called The Virtual Assistant Solution — FREE to unSeminary readers!

Seth Godin is an American author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker. Over the years, I’ve been inspired, challenged and shaped by Seth’s approach to communications and marketing. This post could have been 88 insights from Seth, but I’ve boiled it down to just a handful that I think are the most salient for church leaders today.

“People who settle are exposing themselves to huge risks.” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • Seth commented that in a hyperlinked global culture choosing the “safe” path — the path of working for the industrial giants of the past — is risky. We need to innovate or attempt something new to stay ahead in today’s culture. As a leader, am I choosing the “safe” path defined by the previous generation or am I doing whatever it takes to move forward?
  • Take Away: How can churches take risks to impact our culture? What risks should you take this month to move your ministry forward?

 “Gutenberg launched the printing press when 96% of the people in Europe were illiterate.” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • Let this fact sink in: Gutenberg built a technology to solve a problem no one knew they had. If we’re going to reach people no other church is reaching, we have to do things that no one else is doing. What does extravagant innovation look like at your church? Why don’t churches have R&D departments devoted to pushing the envelope and making an impact in our culture?
  • Take Away: What are we doing that no one else is doing to reach people no one else is reaching?

“We live in a world where people pay real money to raise invisible sheep!” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • Seth used FarmVille, the online social media game where people “farm” virtual plots of land, as an example of an unpredictable outcome of today’s culture and market. Culture is shifting all around us … people are interacting in ways that weren’t conceived of 5 years ago … and we can’t dream of where we’ll be in another 5 years. I’ve always been struck by the fact that we overestimate how rapidly technology will change, but underestimate how quickly technological changes impact our society.
  • Take Away: How are you staying an active learner to tap into where our culture is headed?

“If you can get someone to change … you are making art.” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • A driving force behind Seth’s dialog was how we need to do things … make things … serve people … in a way that changes people. It struck me that this marketplace leader was talking about life change as an outcome. As church leaders, do we think enough about the change we’re shooting for with our programs and services?
  • Take Away: What would happen if you started clearly articulating goals for how you want people to change with every interaction with your church?

“Anyone with a laptop is one click away from anyone else with a laptop.” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • The great outcome of the information technology revolution isn’t that we have access to unlimited amounts of data … it’s that we have unlimited access to people. Technology can be about enabling relationships. At its core, church is about connecting people.
  • Take Away: How can we leverage technology to bring people together in our community?

“Treat different people … differently.” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • One of Seth’s core messages was that today’s successful organizations market to smaller niches rather than the masses. The “television industrial complex” is dead. Stop trying to reach the global dominant culture and start aiming for smaller circles. This is a challenge for church leaders, because we often focus on gathering larger crowds. We celebrate church leaders who are able to market themselves to as broad a demographic as possible. Are we rowing our boats in the wrong direction? Is the future about niche-ministries like Game Church and the house church movement?
  • Take Away: When was the last time your leadership team talked about which “niche” you are trying to reach?

“You are yelling at people who think they have a problem that you can’t solve …” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • Seth implored us to stop trying to “create the need” in people through marketing, and instead to find people with a problem and help them solve it. Marketing has traditionally attempted to foster discontent in an area and then introduce a product to deliver the solution. People have stopped listening to that sort of advertising … they see right through it. They need someone to help solve the problems they actually have.
  • Take Away: Are we solving problems that people perceive they have? Or are we trying to convince them that they have the problem we want to solve? 

“After 100 years of poking people … some stuff stopped working so well.” @ThisIsSethsBlog [tweet this]

  • Seth had some comical old and odd advertisements for us to check out, like babies wrapped in plastic … starting drinking cola young … crazy sexist stuff … and doctors preferring Camels! Although these ads get laughs today, they also point to a cultural shift and a growing suspicion of marketing. People are sick of all the targeting, segmenting and marketing. Our role in communications today is to connect people and share experiences, not to “sell” them on what we have in the warehouse.
  • Take Away: What are we advertising at our churches today that we’re probably going to laugh at 5 years from now? (Be honest!) Should we stop it now to save ourselves embarrassment in the future?



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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.