How many views does it take to call a video “viral”? A million? 15 million?
What about 971? In half a week?
That doesn’t seem like much. But for Grabill Missionary Church, that counts as viral, if viral means “being spread from person to person through individual contact.”
The story part
Sunday, November 29, 37 people walked across the platform near the end of each of our two church services. Individually, in pairs, in small groups, they stopped mid-stage for 10 seconds. For five seconds they showed one side of a piece of cardboard with a few words written on it. Then, on a signal, they turned the cardboard and showed the other side for five seconds. And then they walked off the platform.
The words on the cardboard tell stories. On one side a person describes a life situation. On the other, what they believe God has done. It sounds simple. But when you are dealing with personal violence, terminal illness, doubt, abandonment and death, these can be hard stories to tell.
“Everyone” has done “Cardboard Testimonies”. More accurately, lots of churches have already had segments in their services using cardboard. There is nothing new about this idea.
However, it isn’t a skit, it isn’t a script. It is a way to help people tell stories. Every group that does this makes it new. It is intensely local. People learn more about each other in their community. People who would never otherwise speak can tell their story. And people who think, “no one understands what I’m going through” suddenly see that at least one other person in the community does.
The “viral” part
A group of people told their stories in a simple way. It was captured on video and edited into a simple video. We made it available on YouTube and the church website, and then told our grabillmissionary fans on Facebook.
People who told their story and people who had watched them live through their stories want others to see. And so they pass the link along. Because it contains lots of little stories, there are many conversation points. And so those people pass it along as well.
And in less than a week, there are more views than there were people in the building on Sunday morning.
From a social media perspective, the goal is not to get as many views as we can. The goal is to give people a simple way to pass on an experience from a church service that mattered to them.
From a church perspective, the goal is to help people take what happens inside the building, outside the building.
On both counts, it’s been a good week.