The Power of Long Socks

The SocksLast Friday I stood on stage speaking to the end-of-day VBS crowd and announced into my microphone a reminder to come back on Sunday morning and sing on stage. A custom graphic lit our screen behind me announcing “Kids Sing on Sunday: Be here at 9:30 AM.” I’d primed the pump by visiting each class and personally speaking with each VBS leader. In moments they’d be engaging the crowd of parents by offering personal invitations to come back on Sunday and have their child sing in our worship service. I felt confident that my well coordinated effort that would pay off with a big crowd on Sunday. Then I heard a shout come from the back of the room.

Tomorrow is long sock day, wear your long socks!

It was Matt, our resident youth sound engineer and didgeridoo player. He himself had been sporting long, knee-high, baseball-style socks all week, and now he was offering an invitation for everyone else to follow suit. Right in the middle of my invitation!

I thought, “He doesn’t have a mic. Who authorized long sock day? That’s not official. Can he do that?”

The next day I was shocked to witness a myriad of long socks in a spectrum of colors. A few words of encouragement from the teens had gotten the kids talking and sprouted a frenzy of children who all bought into the idea of wearing longs socks. Even my own daughter, who’s vapid shyness hinders her from participating in all things silly, wore her long socks with pride.

I’m sad to say I don’t own any long socks and had to settle for some calf-highs. Oh the humiliation.

When Sunday rolled around we ended up having around 30 children sing on stage. Last year only 20 kids showed up on Sunday, so we increased participation, but it’s still a small number considering both years had 60 total kids come to VBS during the week. I’m impressed that we got 30 kids to show up on Sunday. It took some intentional effort and strategy to pull off. But I’m even more impressed by the result Matt got through his non-strategic gorilla campaign to clad VBS kids in long socks.

What made the difference?

I went around to every VBS volunteer, looked them in the eye, asked them about their kids, listened to their story and then pitched them on my idea to personally invite parents to our Sunday morning worship service. I had a microphone and on-screen graphics. My idea should have caught fire with all that marketing. How did Matt’s idea catch on so much more quickly with less effort?

Matt had something I didn’t have. Mine was an invitation to be inconvenienced – to go out of your comfort zone to talk to parents and to inconvenience them by holding them up when they just wanted to get out with their kid.  Matt’s was an invitation to have no-strings-attached-unadulterated fun. Matt taught me something that day about why some ideas go viral and others fail to spread regardless of the effort.

We can’t forget the fun.

Fun spreads. Inconvenice fizzles.

3 Responses to “The Power of Long Socks”

  1. 1 alex mclean July 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    THAT’S freaking POWERFUL! When will we all learn that lesson? Myself included… Life should be FUN!

  2. 2 janowen July 3, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Okay, there’s a lesson there I’m gonna think on…..thanks for sharing.

  3. 3 Peter Park July 7, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I’m not sure where my long socks are?

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