Recently, Jeff Goins, who has blogged for us before, had the opportunity to interview Seth Godin as part of a blog tour for his new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? If you’re interested in learning more about the book, you can read Jeff’s review.
Their conversation turned to church marketing, and Jeff was kind enough to allow us to reprint that portion of their interview. These two questions contain ample material for us to read, digest and discuss.
Without further ado, here is a portion of their conversation:
Jeff: In Tribes, you wrote about faith versus religion. You spoke at a Catalyst conference awhile back. You even endorsed Anne Jackson’s book Mad Church Disease. It seems that you’ve made intentional efforts to participate in the Christian conversation recently. Can you explain why or what brought that about? How has faith framed your own worldview?
Seth: I have a huge problem with large bureaucracies, including organized religions. I think they stomp on humanity and kindness and connection. On the other hand, faith is so important. Faith in your future, in other people, in your ability to make a difference. What Anne showed me is that there are many people who are starting to distinguish between the status quo of religion and the essential humanity of faith, and I endorsed her book because she did such a good job of leading a conversation about faith. Faith is largely personal, and if you talk about it too much or proselytize, it can start to fade on you. Just do it.
Jeff: What’s the different between building a permission-based tribe and proselytizing? In All Marketers are Liars, you explain how everyone has a message to share; how do you do that without your company, church, etc. turning into another bureaucratic system? In other words, is there room for marketing and storytelling in faith?
Seth: Lots of terms here, so let’s try to sort it out:
Religions do marketing. They always have. Big religions tell stories that spread, stories that resonate and stories that people are attracted to.
There’s nothing wrong with this. The job of marketing is to make connections with people at a level they wish to be connected.
Faith is not religion. Faith would exist even without a particular book or dogma. Faith makes religion work better, and sometimes religion makes faith work better. I don’t think there are particular “faiths”. I think there are lots of religions, but at their core, there’s pretty much one faith. How can one possibly tell someone that they have the wrong faith?
If your religion gets in the way of your faith, or in the way of sharing the way your faith makes you feel, that’s possibly because it’s become a stuck system, one that accrues power, not a lever to make it easier to be faithful.
Proselytizing, in my view, is like spam. Ringing a doorbell, standing at a bus stop, buying a billboard… those are not permission-based activities. On the other hand, delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them… that works, and it always has, and it’s working better than ever. I think that sharing ideas with people who want to hear them is the essence of what it means to be a marketer, and being a good person makes this a lot easier.