Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Law Of The Few

Gladwell describes connectors, mavens and salesmen under the First of his Three Rules of Epidemics: The Law of the Few. That is, change is not brought about through the equally-weighted actions of a large number of people, but through the actions of a few highly unusual individuals within a much larger group.

And this is significant, if I am right in drawing a correlation between connectors, mavens and salesmen, and apostles, prophets and evangelists. Because as I read scripture and apply it to lived experience, I conclude that:

Jesus still distributes the people-as-gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the local expressions of his body the church today;

He does not distribute these people-as-gifts equally, and there are fewer apostles, prophets and evangelists than there are pastors and teachers;

This rarity within the population is not a limiting factor to church growth (numerical, maturity): it is, when each is doing their part, the Jesus-given means for growth…

And this has implications such as:

Situations that look for all the world beyond hope are not condemned to remain beyond hope, but can change dramatically, suddenly;

There are probably apostles, prophets and evangelists in your local church community, waiting to be released…

…and it is even more likely that there are connectors, mavens and salesmen in your wider community, waiting to be redeemed – to offer themselves as a vassal to God (Psalm 68:18), and, in turn, be given by Jesus as a gift to his church (Ephesians 4:8) for the world…


  1. Anonymous1:42 pm

    Really interesting blogs on Tipping Point material, Andrew. I'd agree with you about the comparisons you make between connectors, mavens and salesmen and APEs (!). One of the things Gladwell shows is how little those three roles are properly understood or (often) valued, esp by those who are not performing that role at a particular time. This is just as true in church life: those who have the vested interest in the current situation are the ones who most need to release the APEs, so they can start calling the wider community into the new things that the Holy Spirit is wanting us all to be and do. But, of course, that is where the rubber hits the road!
    Right now I'm reading Gladwell's latest book, Outliers, which is about how success does (and doesn't) occur, which builds on some of the material you've outlined so well in these posts.
    PS As a digression, loved your childcare confession - obviously no other Dads reading the blog have ever done anything like that, oh no.

  2. Great to hear from you, Alex. I really appreciate your observation that those who most need APEs are those with a vested interest in the current situation - i.e. (because that is what the Church tends to select) pastors and teachers...
    It ties in with an observation Al Hirsch makes in 'The Forgotten Ways' that the five roles in Ephesians 4 build on the previous one - the consequence of PTs suppressing APEs is, no-one pastor and teach...

  3. Sorry - that should have ended:
    "no-one to pastor and teach..."