It’s a privilege to have my post appear on Michael’s site today, especially so close to the release of his outstanding new book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Don’t buy it yet — as he will be the first to tell you. Buy it next week and you’ll get a wealth of extra growth tools.
For those of you visiting my site from the Seth Godin live “Pick Yourself” event that we just experienced in NYC, Michael’s new book promises to be the new bible for being loud. Seth would be proud. In fact, Seth’s last words to me Wednesday were “First, be loud.” Read my post. Leave a comment. Buy Michael’s book next week. And grow.
Next a reminder to subscribe to my site before midnight tonight, Friday, May 18, to be eligible for one of ten free copies of my latest project with Hugh Hewitt. The Study Guide Edition of In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and a Desire to Influence the World will hit the shelves the same day as Michael’s book — next Tuesday, May 22.
I was privileged to partner with my friend Hugh to take what was already an excellent, life-transforming work and make it even more accessible for small groups and personal use. I crafted both a study guide and downloadable free Leader’s Guide based on a decade of teaching its principles. Both books come from the great people at Thomas Nelson.
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Now, about Seth Godin.
As you can tell from my tagline, connecting real life with real faith is pretty important to me. So on my recent day in NYC with Seth Godin and other creative Triiibes members, I asked a question of him that had been puzzzling me.
In his book Tribes: We Neeed You to Lead Us, Seth discusses the difference between faith and religion. He says that faith is belief. Religion is the organization of rules that follows behind it. They are not the same thing. He is right, of course. He calls for “heretics” who are willing to challenge established religion based on what they believe. Think Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Dell in business, etc.
I am experiencing a good example of this distinction even as I type these words in the Newark Liberty Airport. When the Wright brothers launched on a beach in Kitty Hawk, they were heretics. Safety was not in their top ten concerns. They believed man could fly. Now, the religion of flight safety has been built in an attempt to preserve the fulfillment of that belief for all – or almost all. Some terrorists just can’t get on. In this air safety religion, there are cultural norms, rules, rituals, and regulations that govern the many agencies and bureaucracies charged with preserving the sacred belief. Anyone who suggests that there may be a better way to meet the same end is today often decried as a heretic. Look at any institutional church or denomination and you’ll see similar efforts to preserve religion over rethinking and advancing the core beliefs that empowered the organization at its outset.
My question to Seth was essentially this: For beliefs to take hold and spread, don’t they need to be scalable to have any chance of long-term success? And doesn’t scalability require religion – an organizational structure or system of thinking, however loosely defined, that gives boundaries and support to the belief? I understand that the most urgent need is often for a heretic to simply overcome his or her fears and speak out, but what happens after that will determine the difference between long-term success and flash-in-the-pan novelty. Seth himself has not only spoken out but taken intentional action to provide structure for a tribe organized around the belief that we should all question everything and take disruptive action to nudge us toward change. A loose, self-censoring religion exists even evident at the NYC event the other day.
So does faith inevitably result in religion? And is that necessarily a bad thing? If it is bad, where does that leave us? Do we live then simply to challenge the next religion? How do we avoid the vanity of worshipping at the church of “the new” with our slogan being “the next heresy must be better”?
When I followed up with Seth briefly after the event, he did acknowledge that eventually some systems will need to be put in place by the heretic or others to ensure the heresy is scalable and true to it’s intended impact. He stressed that the first step is to First: Be Loud! Understood. Certainly that’s where most people fail. But it would seem that religion can and should be faith’s friend rather than it’s enemy since they will be inevitably and inexorably connected.
Is the key then to figure out how best to keep a vibrant connection between the faith and the religion that follows?
Any thoughts? I welcome all comments on this topic here and on the other post at Michael’s site today. Would love to hear from fellow Seth Godin “Pick Yourself” event attendees with their thoughts, too.