How to Influence People

For as long as I've been around, there seems to be a common culture in the Church of beating people over the head with sermons. Preachers love to challenge, exhort, rebuke and the like. It's almost like it's part of our DNA ... as if all of us have the gift of being prophetic, but sometimes it's just us preachers being pathetic.

In reality, magnifying the negative rarely works. People are far more motivated by positive inspiration - hearing great stories of a great God doing great works through His people.

Psychology studies show that to effectively influence people in a certain direction, we need to show good examples, not bad ones. We as Church leaders need to be more careful about magnifying the negative.

Guy Kawasaki shares about these studies in his recent book Enchanted: 

In Arizona’s Petrified Forest, a small handful of visitors were picking up little pieces of petrified wood as souvenirs. This worried the Forest Service, so they began to put up signs stating that "people are taking pieces of the Petrified Forest and they need to stop if there's going to be anything left for the rest of us to enjoy."

Surprisingly, the result was that the amount of petrified wood being taken increased because the signs caused people to feel as if they were in the minority if they didn't take any.

The forest service then tried a different approach at the advice of consultants. Signs went up stating "99.9 percent of park visitors didn’t take a piece of the Petrified Forest and the agency hoped that visitors would follow that example."

What happened? Visitors conformed their conduct to what they thought the vast majority of people were doing - not taking pieces of the forest. It worked brilliantly.

In what ways can you "reframe" your communication and messages to present God's work around the world? In what ways can you "recast" the vision of the Church to encourage Christians to engage in this great Gospel work around the world?

Please comment here and share a story or two of incredible ways you see God at work around you that would encourage other readers to "be a part of the majority."