Minority rules

June 9th, 2021

The minority, not the majority, rules. You may think that because we live in a democracy, and like to give everyone a voice and vote, to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table, that the majority would rule. You would be wrong. The minority rules.

It turns out that the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead are spot on: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

These thoughtful citizens were the focus of Malcom Gladwell’s 2000 book Tipping Point. Just how many people does it take for a minority viewpoint to become the majority?  Gladwell figured that the tipping point of a new idea overtaking old ideas would only require the active participation of a small number of people: say  20% of the total population in question. He called this the “law of the few.” Gladwell was on the right track, but it turns out the law of the few is even smaller than 20%. In fact, it’s half that size.

In 2011, scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that when just 10% of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will ALWAYS be adopted by the majority of the society.  So, the minority does rule.

What does this have to do you with your leadership in the church? Everything! For example, often church leaders become discouraged because they feel they are in the minority even in their church. It’s hard to get others to go along, to see your vision, to care as deeply as you do.

But what if you only needed 10% of your congregation to see things the way you do? To care as deeply as you do in order for your ideas to catch on? What if 10% was the necessary size of the leaven in the loaf?

Even better, what if your congregation itself became the leaven in the loaf for your community? If your 10% minority viewpoint on love, justice, and reconciliation ends up becoming the majority? What could be possible then?

It worked for Jesus and his twelve apostles. They turned the world upside down. Not so much because of what they did, as what they believed.  As a result, their unshakeable beliefs were the foundation of the transformation that occurred in the known world as the church spread like wildfire.

I have written extensively about the unshakeable beliefs that Jesus and the apostles held, and that you are invited to share. These beliefs form the bedrock of apostolic ministry. I never expected to see mainstream science upholding the power of these beliefs.  But there you have it.

Again, this is all good news for you. Being in the minority can actually work in your favor.  You don’t need to worry about the competing voices and ideas out there.  Or to shout others down or prove them wrong.  You only need to focus on grounding shared unshakeable beliefs among 10% of your congregation and your community. From there, back up those beliefs with everything you have. Don’t be afraid to speak them, preach them, share them, live them!

The more confident you are, the more others will feel confident in buying in to your message, and sharing it with others.

I don’t know exactly what your call is.  But I imagine it has something to do with spreading love, teaching peace, and sharing Jesus. With a call like that on your life, you want to have an impact. Learn how to Dream Like Jesus.  Join me for a lively discussion of How to Create a Culture of Renewal and discover the unshakeable beliefs that may be holding your congregation back.

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