Here are 4 types of people critical to any kind of movement, whether it’s a scalable startup or a disciple-making movement:
- Early Adopters – the people who are already seeking what is being offered, and willing to take a minimum viable product: anything presently functioning. They want it so badly they are very forgiving of bugs/errors/problems; and, they want it to endure and be successful so badly, they’ll give you feedback for how the MVP can be improved. Early adopters are bent toward finding a solution–in CPM/DMM terms, we can think of these as the people who are Googling for the Gospel. However, they are not necessarily interested in passing the solution on to others. It’s a mistake to think just because you have Early Adopters, this translates into a movement. It may only translate into Generation Zero.
- People of Peace – Network Introducers – these are the people who will “open the doors” into their social network. They are sometimes the same as Early Adopters, but not always. For example, among the Persian cluster (and especially in Iran) many seeking the Gospel, listening to Christian programming via satellite television, but only a small percentage are willing to “open the doors” for the Gospel into their network of family and friends. There are many reasons why someone would be leery to do this – at least at first. Try to understand those reasons without prejudging them. People of Peace are actively looking for things of value to pass on to their social network (and one side effect is to increase their value to their social network). When looking for PoPs, seek people in a position to take a risk for the Gospel within their social network. Think about the common fears in the community, and then look for the people who for one reason or another are immune to the causes of those fears.
- Multipliers & Disciple-makers – In the gaming world, these are the people who teach the game to others, or maybe even build a business on top of the game (as a coach or the like). In the business world, these are the people who build businesses on top of social media platforms. They take your “product” and run with it to do something more. They want a reliable product, something reputable, easy to pass on, worth passing on, something with most of the “bugs worked out.” In the church planting world, they not only make disciples, they teach disciples to be disciple-makers as well. Multipliers are not necessarily the same as People of Peace, and rarely Early Adopters.
- Hubs – these are the respected people who evaluate information before passing it on. I’m a Gatekeeper because I evaluate emails shared with me, and check them first with Snopes.org. If they are urban legends, I don’t pass them on. The Gatekeeper or “Hub” person in a network is the key to its scalability: most people are not Hubs, but nearly everyone is connected strongly to at least one “Hub” person. Hubs, in addition, are “weakly connected” to a lot of other Hubs–they make the “six degrees of separation” possible. If a message is stopped by most Hubs within a cluster, the Gospel won’t make much of an advance. Gatekeepers will almost never be Early Adopters or PoPs. Their strong evaluative function means they are tilted more toward keeping things out than passing things on, whereas Early Adopters and PoPs are focused more on introducing new things of value to the network. Gatekeepers are most likely going to be older, more respected members of the community, especially where spiritual values are concerned. (If we were talking about tech, then the Gatekeeper would more likely be a young-to-middle-aged person with an evaluative bent.)
Many people have the tactics of witnessing & asking people to join a Discovery Bible Study down. Strategy comes in when you begin considering these types of people, their connections to other less-socially-connected members, and how you can engage with these types to promote the spread of the Gospel in a community.
As an example, in Iran, many family Gatekeepers are less opposed to the Gospel, so the Gospel flows pretty quickly through families. In Turkey, on the other hand, Gatekeepers are very opposed to things Western and things Christian – so the Gospel has a much harder time flowing through families. Theory: where Gatekeepers are hostile, PoPs are be less visible (because the social risks are higher). Thus most of the converts are more likely “early adopters” but there is less replication and spread.