Connectors

Last week I referred to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, his insightful look at the causes of social epidemics.

I said,
“In a very real way, we want our movements on campus to become social epidemics. Gladwell suggests ‘the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.’ p. 33. He calls it “The Law of the Few” and focuses on ‘connectors, mavens, and salesmen.’ ”

I focused on his interesting insight that emotion often moves from the outside to the inside. We can influence the emotions of those we are talking with in very tangible ways.

This week I want to go back to The Tipping Point to focus on Gladwell’s “connectors”. As ministers of the Gospel and leaders, we should be aware that, though every soul has value and is precious in God’s eyes, not every soul touches the same number of people.

Connectors have a great ability to make friends and build relationships. They can relate to people in different worlds and social networks. Gladwell says, “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” p. 49.

Here is an example of a social network that I pulled from Google Images. It happens to be a map of the University of Minnesota’s Extension program relating to other organizations. It illustrates that while we are connected to anyone else by just a few steps, some of those steps are significant connectors. Most paths are going through the same people.

Starting with the black square in the middle, they built a relationship with those identified by the blue, green, orange and yellow squares. They in turn touch the red people.

You could spend all your time talking with the red folks, but think how many you could touch if you saw one or two connectors on your campus come to Christ. Relational networks are the carrier of the Gospel.

A disclaimer is appropriate at this point. Don’t ignore the little people! It’s not all about being strategic. But do recognize that with limited people, financial, time and energy resources, how can we strategically make the greatest impact possible?

Whether you’re seeking to launch a ministry on a new campus or in a new community, or whether you’re growing an existing ministry, why not consider who the connectors are and make an concerted effort to reach them.

Saul was a connector who became Paul.

  • Who are the Sauls on your campuses?
  • Are you comfortable reaching out to Sauls?
  • If not, is there someone you can team up with that will help you develop the skills necessary to relate to these Sauls?
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