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True Stories Go Viral





Min-Out TrueWant to create something viral? Create something real.

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

As the Gungor song “Beautiful Things” played through the sound system, people emerged from backstage carrying handwritten stories written, typed out, painted, scrawled, etc., 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 the people carrying these poster boards had found the stories on the Internet and just “copied and pasted.”

But as more people emerged, I saw people I knew who were carrying stories that sounded remarkably familiar. Wait! These are actually their stories! The emotion was real. They were baring their souls. 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 Photoshopped images and special effects. People are cleverer 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 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.


Jonathan Malm writes and speaks about the creative process, especially for churches. He blogs about creativity at JonathanMalm.com and ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com.


All articles excerpted and adapted with permission from the website ChurchMarketingSucks.com  

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