college ministry review: free prize inside

I have a new favorite Seth Godin book for college ministry.

(Yes, his books are secular business books. But he still has superb ideas that I believe can help with building effective college ministries.)

My first Godin book, The Dip, is still probably the one I personally enjoy reading the most.

And yes, I liked the newest book, Tribes, and somewhat reviewed it at this post. But I feel like it’s going to take a brave college minister expending an awful lot of effort to pull off a college ministry based on that philosophy. While it could certainly be worth that effort (for the ministry and for your students), it’s probably not a book we can immediately (accurately) apply.

(While some ideas from that book are immediately applicable, the actual undertaking of a full Tribes-style ministry would require some pretty heavy revamping to any present ministry – or a full reboot.)

Purple Cow was my previous top recommendation for college ministry. That one is focused on simply making remarkable products or organizations that, in a real sense, advertise themselves. For us, this could work far better than the models of “if we build it, they will come” college ministry or the ever-popular “advertise and someone is bound to show up” ministry.

But when it comes to a Godin book that’s a superb read for immediately tweaking a college ministry (and then tweaking it again and again for years to come), I now have to go with Free Prize Inside.

Free Prize Inside is actually a sort of follow-up to Purple Cow, serving as Purple Cow‘s practical, here’s-how-to-go-about-building-this companion. Section One of the book begins with explaining why any product or organization (like a college ministry) needs a “free prize” – something that seems “extra” that in fact makes it truly exciting. This “Free Prize” talk can apply to a college ministry as a whole, but it can also happily apply to individual activities: a mission trip, a weekly activity, a single event, worship, announcements, and so on.

(To get the idea, here’s a quick list of “free prizes” from Seth.)

Section Two gives tips on getting others on board with implementing a Free Prize. While many college ministers do get to make the final call about ministry “tweaks,” this section can still be helpful for

  • getting students or volunteers to join in your new Free Prize effort,
  • or convincing your overseers (like a pastor, a regional director, or other leader) to allow something new

Section Three, however, was the most thrilling for me. Basically, Godin walks the reader through a better way to brainstorm – called “edgecraft” – and then gives all kinds of ways to do this. This section is pretty hard to explain here, but I can certainly say this: It could give you tools for dramatically improving your ministry efforts time and time again, for years to come.

Check out the book’s site here, with a link to a summary .pdf, updated footnotes for the book, and links to buy the book.

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  1. Pingback: raising expectations #3: better brainstorming | Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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