I worked with a musician who had a Facebook page. She spent years building up her page. She had received thousands of likes and loads of pictures. The page was a great marketing tool and showed to prospective hirers that she was well liked. Then the page was wiped out mysteriously. She wanted to try and recreate that page. In the process she ‘paid’ for people to like the page. This showed people how well ‘liked’ she was.
While I was working with this musician I discovered things about Facebook pages and getting people to pay for them. It is a two edged sword. On the one hand, it looks great. On the other, the page loses its effectiveness as a tool to get out messages. This is because Facebook has millions of messages going out each hour. The way it decides which messages it will put on people’s profiles is complex but Facebook starts with putting out the post to a few people. The more people engage with a post, the more people Facebook will show to people that page. So if lots of people engage with a post, lots more people will see that post. If nobody engages with the post, then Facebook doesn’t show it to others.
When you pay people to like a page, the post gets showed to people who don’t really care about the post and don’t engage with it. So it gets shown to fewer people.
I sometimes wonder if churches can be like a Facebook page. They really want people to attend (read like) the church, so the church service is really attractive to people – a big show, but these people aren’t really engaged with the true message of Christ. They are ‘paid’, in that they get some good things out of going to the service. They also make the church look good to others, so more ‘like’ the church.
However they can lessen the effectiveness of the message. The true message when it goes out is not engaged. The many who sit, don’t ‘like, share or comment’ to others about the message. So the message gets lost in the millions of other messages going out each hour. The true message never goes viral.
Jesus had a different way of operating. Initially he attracted big crowds but after a while, he made it difficult for people to come and follow him, to ‘like’ him. Many turned away because he made it hard.
However the few who did follow him, truly engaged in his message. To follow the Facebook analogy, they ‘liked, shared and commented’ on that message to many others. It didn’t take long for the true message to go viral.