By Todd Outcalt

A genre of publishing that has exploded in the past five years. Among the more recent bestsellers are two titles by Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point and Blink. Both of these books deal with the little things that can make a big difference in a business, a product or a market.

Even more recently, two brother authors, Chip and Dan Heath, have written a book titled, Made to Stick. The subtitle is, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Reading this book, I discovered some amazing questions for the church. The authors believe that the stickiness or effectiveness of an idea, a presentation or even a worship service or sermon can be attributed to the following success factors.

  • Simple - how easy is the concept to understand? The simpler, the better. Jesus communicated profound insights in a simple manner. Are our churches easy for people to visit or are there barriers that have to be broken down first? Can a visitor or guest to our congregations understand what is happening? Have we become too complicated as United Methodists?

  • Unexpected - an idea sticks because we say something or do something that people don't expect. Is our worship of God just repetition for the sake of ease, or do we say things, do things or offer the Gospel in new and provocative ways that bring people out of their comfort zones into a new awareness of God? When's the last time we tried something unexpected in worship?

  • Concrete - no abstractions. Make it plain. It's got to be practical and livable. Can we teach people how to use their faith to deal with family crisis, problems at work or marital questions?

  • Credible - people have to believe that an idea or belief is achievable. The person offering the idea must have integrity and credibility. Are we coming across as credible people?

  • Emotional - people have to feel a strong connection if they are going to join a movement, join a church or stick with a congregation. We need to appeal to people's emotional needs as well as intellectual if the faith is going to stick.

  • Stories - Jesus used stories to communicate ideas. All great movements tell a story. Each congregation has a story to tell. Every pastor has a story. What is yours?

Todd Outcalt serves a senior pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, Ind.