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The Danger of Hype

Yesterday I pointed out how easy it is for us to turn a good idea into the only idea, today I want to look at the problems that such hype can cause.

Our culture is obsessed with panaceas, that one idea which will fix whatever it is that we believe needs fixing.

So we come across a book promising to help us lose 28lbs in just 30 days (meth use and amputating a leg?) or a blog post promising 5 simple steps to quadrupling our readership, and our hopes are raised.

Maybe this is the answer!

So we try the diet and lose 7lbs, or do every step and get 6 new readers for our trouble.

And we’re disappointed.

We should be disappointed, we were promised far more – but actually both ideas worked, they just didn’t work quite like we were told they would.

This is the danger of hype.

When you over promise and under deliver you lose credibility. People stop taking you seriously, and move on to the next person making grand (usually unsubstantiated) claims.

Now there is a thin line to walk here.

That book idea you have may be brilliant, your paradigm for missional church may be exactly what some congregations need, and that business plan may be destined for great success.

I’m not saying to play down good ideas, just be realistic.

That book may be brilliant but it’s probably not going to earn you a pile of money so big you can fill a pool with it to swim in. Your approach to missional church could transform a community, but probably won’t end the decline of the Western church. That business plan may do well, but telling everyone you know that it’s a no risk investment is probably a bad idea.

Excitement and passion are great, hype isn’t.

When we over-hype an idea, or a movie, or the book we just read, the person on the other end of all that hype is set up for disappointment, and we’re set up to lose credibility the next time.

Grace and peace.

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Mason is a husband to Melinda, seminary student, youth pastor, blogger and freelance writer in, Grand Rapids, MI. He is passionate about theology, community and justice. What little time is left amidst his busy schedule is devoted to reading, coffee snobbery and a new adventure in home brewing.