Christianity: People Buy the “Why”, Not the “What” and “How”.

One of the best TED talks I have watched is by Simon Sinek titled, “Start with why – how christianity-1868365_640great leaders inspire action.”  In his eighteen minute discussion he explains why some organizations and individuals are more successful than others despite having less resources to obtain their goals.  He provides Apple, the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King as examples.  Why for instance was Apple, a computer company, able to succeed in selling an Mp3 player while Dell and Microsoft failed?  How did MLK inspire hundreds of thousands of people to hear his message and why were the underfunded Wright Brothers successful in achieving flight before their competitors?

He suggests that many organizations know “what” they do and “how” they do it but not all know “why” they do it.  What is the purpose, the cause, the main belief or vision of the organization?  These individuals and companies who understand the “why” are successful because as Sinek points out, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

  • Apple makes great computers.  That’s the what.
  • They are beautifully designed and easy to use.  That’s the how.
  • Want to buy one?

Sinek suggests our message should start with the why and work from the inside out.

  • We want to disrupt the status quo and change the world (why)
  • So we build products that our beautifully designed and easy to use. (how)
  • Want to buy one of our great computers? (what)

According to Pew research, Christianity is on the decline.  Fewer and fewer people are interested in partaking of what Christians are offering.  Perhaps we should use Sinek’s model and first start with the why.  Why are we Christians? Why do we serve Jesus?  What we do is expand and disciple the church.  How we do it is by comforting the sick, building hospitals, feeding the homeless, sending out missionaries and praising God.  Why we do it should be obvious but sometimes our message is focused more on the what and how.  “We want to shepherd and save the lost so we build hospitals, give to the poor and welcome you into our homes.  Come follow Christ.”  Is that a successfully compelling message?

Why do we care for the homeless, provide snack for our children at church, and sing songs to the Lord? Let’s start with the why.

  • We love you like a brother/sister.
  • So we care for you, feed you, welcome you into our arms.
  • Please join us as we praise and worship our Father.

Maybe your why message is slightly different than mine but in the end it always comes back to love.  Love is what we’re selling, not hospitals, food, hymns or fancy stage lighting.  Like Apple, we too want to disrupt the status quo and change the world by doing something radically different; loving our neighbor.  Any takers?

Please watch Simon Sinek’s full discussion here:


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