Unless your internet has been disconnected or you avoid social media like the plague, you've probably heard this week about the Stop Kony movement by Invisible Children.
If not, you can...
See the video here.
Read an article critiquing the movement here.
Read Invisible Children's rebuttal here.
Today, I am not talking about whether the movement is right or wrong or whether or not you should participate. There are other blogs happily debating the topic.
What I want to do is look at the movement itself. Whether you agree with the movement or not, you can't argue that if their goal has been to get people to talk about it, they're succeeding. The message is spreading like wildfire. Can you imagine the change that would come over this world if the gospel message of Jesus Christ were to break out and spread like that? It's amazing to think about.
So I started thinking, "Why this cause?" Invisible Children is hardly the only charity out there fighting to end an injustice. There are many groups out there fighting for causes that I would consider to be bigger than this one. Acts of injustice that effect more people than Kony does. So why is Stop Kony such a big deal?
1. It's specific.
There are girls being kidnapped everyday and forced into sexual slavery. Millions are affected by AIDS. There are places without clean drinking water. There are people starving in the United States. Homelessness. Abandoned Children. Worthy causes are endless.
What's different about this one? There is a specific target. There is a single man to get mad at. The goal is definable - get one man arrested. With a definable goal comes the confidence that the goal can be reached. Often times causes seem to be endless. Those working to erase poverty will never actually win the battle because someone will always be earning less than everyone else. That can make it hard to get people to join your cause.
2. There's a sense of urgency.
They aren't asking for a long term commitment from anyone. They are asking for a year. Even less than that, they are asking for one day. If you miss that day, then you miss the movement. You can't decide three months from now to take part - you'll have missed it. There's a now or never mentality to the movement that spurs people to action. They even tell you to stop wearing the bracelets when the year is over.
There will always be children abandoned because their parents can't or won't take care of them. If I miss helping one, there will be another one on another day. With the Stop Kony campaign, if you miss it, it's gone. People don't like to miss out, especially when it could be something huge.
3. The request is simple.
Yes, they would love to have your money. Yes, they want you to go plaster posters up in your city. But mostly, they want you to talk about it. They want you to sit at your computer and make it a big deal. Tell your friends. Share the links. What they are requesting is easy for a lot of people to do.
They are even giving people a reason to contact big name celebrities that most people would never have the guts to talk to. They've given people a reason to send messages and letters to their favorite actors and singers. The request is simple and something most people enjoy doing anyway. They just ask that instead of tweeting about the big basketball game, you tweet about Kony.
4. They've been at it a long time.
They didn't just gather last week and say, "Hey, let's stop this guy!" If I understood the video right, they've been working at this since 2001. That's a long time to keep at something that doesn't seem to be having the desired result. It's been a slow process, but they've kept at it. You can't win the race if you stop running it.
5. They got emotional.
This is not a dig at the fact that he used his adorable little son in the video. It's not a complaint about the possibility of left out or simplified facts. It's a statement on human nature. If we are not emotionally involved, we will not get involved. We don't stick out noses in places because it is a smart thing to do. We do it because we're curious or angry or scared or jealous.
We try to save the whales because we're mad about what people do to them. Sometimes we help the homeless out of guilt. Emotions drive actions. Ideally people get emotionally involved, then bring their heads with them to examine the facts and decide the best course of action. But without the initial emotional tug, they aren't going to act.
6. They kept the message simple.
There's also only so much thinking most people are willing to do. Attention spans are low and we don't normally sit at our computers wanting someone to ask us to think. So they made the information as basic as possible. It's like when I teach things to my daughter. I gloss over some technicalities because her brain is still trying to grasp the basic concept. Once she understands that, we come in and teach the details.
What do we do with these lessons? To be honest, I'm still thinking about that. But I know that anytime there's an effective method of reaching a lot of people with a single message, it behooves evangelical Christians to look at it and learn from it. So let's think of ways we can apply these lessons.
After all, every day 7 billion people contract a disease that will ultimately lead to death. There are 3,800 entire people groups that have not even heard of the cure for this disease. Some of them will die today. The disease? Sin. The consequence? Hall and eternal death and separation from God. The cure? Jesus Christ.
How can we take these lessons and apply them to tell more people about the cure?