Honesty Goes Viral

Honesty Goes Viral

January 18, 2012 by

Want to create something viral? Create something real.

My church recently held a creative worship night. It was a night filled with dancing, music, painting and other artsy fartsy things I usually don’t enjoy. But one particular piece got my attention.

As the Gungor song, “Beautiful Things,” played through the system, people emerged from backstage carrying hand-written stories on poster boards. “I was going to get life without parole, but God intervened.” “I struggled with feelings of inferiority, but God loves me so much.” They were well-crafted stories. I assumed they found them on the Internet.

But as more people emerged, I saw people I knew carrying stories that sounded remarkably familiar. Wait! These were actually their stories! The stories and emotion were real. They were baring their souls on this stage.

Tears welled up in my eyes.

After the program ended, something bubbled inside me. I had to tell people about this! I struck up conversations with everyone I passed about those amazing stories. Could you believe they were real?! That night went viral for me.

Hollywood blockbusters can’t compete with that. Their special effects and perfectly crafted stories don’t go viral.

Videos shot on webcams that reflect honesty and truth go viral.

We live in an increasingly phony world filled with Photoshop and special effects. People are more clever at faking things. And we spend a lot of emotional energy trying to separate the fake from the real.

Look at the comment stream below a viral video or incredible photo. “Photoshopped!” “This is so fake.” “Actors.” People are trying to find truth.

So while we’re spending more and more money in churches—mimicking Hollywood blockbusters—let’s never forget that the greatest thing we can do is tell a true story. True stories go viral. Openness and honesty go viral. We have a viral message—the gospel. Let’s present it as honestly as possible.

Photo by umjanedoan
Post By:

Jonathan Malm


Jonathan Malm is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of Created for More (Moody, 2014), a 30-day devotional to help you develop a more creative mind.
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5 Responses to “Honesty Goes Viral”

  • Julie Beader
    January 18, 2012

    Such a good point, Jonathan. Just remembering that part of the worship night made tears well up in my eyes. Nothing touches like “real.” Good stuff, brother.


  • Harshendra
    January 19, 2012

    Very true indeed. I agree to every single word that you have written down. People today really need to have some rawness in their emotions. They have forgotten the real life and they get much inspired by reel life which is just like a ruined plastic surgery to a beautiful face!


  • Matthew Sandahl
    January 19, 2012

    I like photoshop! jk. This “Stories” idea is a favorite in recent pop culture. But its also very true. Stories are relate-able.


  • Edward Atkins
    January 28, 2012

    Yes, I too agree that the “real” is far, far more compelling than the “photoshopped” . If I may be so bold as to relate my own example I would recommend my book “On Which We Serve” (WestBow Press) which combines the “real deal” with thoughts of substance (please keep in mind that this book is about “wartime”, NOT “warfare”). A beginning to this book may be seen in the first edition that does not contain the text that takes it to a higher level (www.a-flight-deck-odyssey.com). Yes, church-marketing is challenging but I would say that one of the true joys in life is to overcome a legitimate challenge. Thank you very much for your time.


  • Scotty Fagaly
    February 13, 2012

    Good words man. This is such an important reminder to the church world. In a world where we have become so content with seeing masks on everyone, it only makes sense that people latch onto the things that aren’t wearing these “masks.” Its a foreign sensation. Honesty invokes a lot of different emotions in people. Most of them are the ones we have repressed deep down. When these emotions surface, as a result of honesty, it catches fire. Honesty will breed honesty. You said it perfectly sir.



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