I’ve been reading a lot about Crowds. Who they are, and who they are not. The most intriguing aspect of the Crowd conversation is that nobody is discounting that the power leverage has shifted. The ball is owned by the Crowd, and the Crowd determines what the next step is.

The nagging thought that I keep getting is that if a Crowd is simply a large mass of people, the ability to direct, sell, teach, even listen to them is practically impossible. The other thing about Crowds is that they can gather in an instant, but they can also disperse just as quick.

I’ve been to a couple of meetings with “guys in the know” about the next step in church development and where religion plays a part in that development. In every instance there is a focus on the Crowd. A push to get the Crowd involved and bring the Crowd to some central event. The sad part about this is that in essence there is no difference from “marketing to a Crowd” to the old stand on the street corner with a bullhorn approach in terms of truly making a difference.

Sure you may get your church’s name in the paper, but who reads papers anymore? You may create a “buzz”, but then you fall into the same need to have a bigger buzz each time you meet. Most organizations do their best at sending loads of money out to the crowd. I suppose that is OK if your intention is to become just like most organizations – bland and interchangeable. I suppose it is OK if you just want to surf the same wave every other guru is asking people to surf.

It’s not OK if you want to be anything other than “most”. If you have any desire to be remarkable – in other words that someone would have reason to “remark” about you – you have to focus not on Crowds, but on Tribes. As Seth Godin says, “A crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe without communication…Smart organizations assemble the tribe.”

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