In this month’s column, I want to write about popularity. I guess like a lot of things, popularity is a spectrum. In the younger generation, the amount of ‘likes’ on social media equates to their popularity online. I have always been a bit more ‘old school’ where popularity is who you hang about with. I concede I was not popular when I was younger, but when I hit my late teen years, I got in with a grand crowd and over the years made lots of friends and am very blessed to keep them.
So, what is popularity? Within each construct group in sociology, it is acceptance and shared values! There will always be people who maybe don’t feel like they fit in with the group construct, and each group construct can be from 2 to large groups.
So, what am I babbling about? Well as a Christian, we belong to a big crowd, our churches, but the irony is with popularity within our faith; how do we make being a part of this a popular option?
Being a Christian has been, historically, an unpopular choice. I’m just being honest. If we are to show ourselves to be a popular option, honesty is the key. Being popular doesn’t mean compromising on your moral compass or trying to be quote unquote ‘cool’! Christianity is on the decline.
Each one of us has a responsibility to get the positives about being a Christian out there. Let’s be honest, the Evangelist standing on the corner telling people to repent or go to hell, well as a Christian it puts me off, never mind someone just taking a tentative interest.
So, what do we have to offer that makes us popular?
Care in the community?
This has brought people in and makes Churches popular within the community. Ask yourself, why do people who don’t even believe come to Church particularly at Christmas? It makes them feel homely and is part of the “Tradition” for many. What we offer the community and how we come across in our own popular bubble is a beacon for drawing people in.
Believe it or not, what is offered to people from a Church is the thing that initially pulls them in. I happen to think our Church is particularly good at this, we have so much to offer every age group.
The popular benefits of what makes Church popular for those that go there comes later and like with many things first impressions mean everything. Remember that when you meet new people you are projecting the image of what being a part of Church can mean.
What it means to you doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to them at the start, so always be mindful too. Please don’t misunderstand; of course sharing the good news of Jesus is paramount, but if you want to get to this part, show what draws you in, because in today’s world expectations are high, and for people to take a second look and learn all about the Good News you need to draw people in to our ‘In’ crowd.
Final thought – Do you feel popular? Where would you put yourself on the spectrum? What first impression would you give of the Church to draw people in?