Last month one of the biggest churches in the U.S., the 55,000-member Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, created a special Easter flash mob video that went viral, scoring more than 700,000 views so far. It was heralded as an example of viral video marketing and even got kudos from Adweek‘s Adfreak blog.
The video featured more than 2,000 pastel-clad “spontaneous” dancers raising arms to an auto-tuned worship song in celebration of Easter Sunday. It’s eerily reminiscent of the Resurrection Sunday Dance from Budapest in 2010, a video with more than 1.5 million views on YouTube (to be fair, any flash mob video featuring spontaneous choreography should be described as eerie). Titled “Dance Your Shoes Off,” at the end of the video the dancers removed their brand new shoes which were later collected and donated to homeless people, adding a service element to the whole experience.
Keep on Dancing
Such a public event does have the benefit of multiple perspectives. It’s not limited to the official video. Loads of people watching the event can be seen snapping pictures and taking cell phone video. These alternate perspectives show up online, spreading the core idea even further. Involving so many people also offers more ways to spread the story, as participants can share their story: “Each time I watch the video I get a little emotional looking at all of those shoes laying on the lawn.”
And at some point people start to have fun with it, like this version that ditched the auto-tuned worship in favor of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Building that kind of excitement and energy around something your church is doing is pretty cool. Never mind the 700,000 views.
It’s also an opportunity to challenge misconceptions:
“My mom was surprised. She said, ‘I didn’t think Baptists danced,’ and I told her, ‘Well, this Baptist church dances,’” Carla Bradley told the Believe It Or Not blog.
“We thought that video was a great way to capture the essence of the identity that Christians can have fun and enjoy life and celebrate what Jesus did for us,” Curt Taylor of Second Baptist Church told Fox 26.
The Houston dancers weren’t the only ones busting a move on Easter Sunday. The folks behind the original Budapest dance-a-thon, Up to Faith, have been busy organizing an international movement with the hopes of putting together another viral sensation.
It might be a little too much pizzazz for some people and others are quick to criticize how late to the flash mob game the church is, but whatever. I’m not a big fan of flash mobs—bunch of weirdos. But getting that many people talking about Easter while doing some good is pretty cool. Cheesy or not, I’d call it a win.