Holy Flash Mob

Holy Flash Mob

May 16, 2011 by

Last month one of the biggest churches in the U.S., the 55,000-member Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, created a special Easter flash mob video that went viral, scoring more than 700,000 views so far. It was heralded as an example of viral video marketing and even got kudos from Adweek‘s Adfreak blog.

The video featured more than 2,000 pastel-clad “spontaneous” dancers raising arms to an auto-tuned worship song in celebration of Easter Sunday. It’s eerily reminiscent of the Resurrection Sunday Dance from Budapest in 2010, a video with more than 1.5 million views on YouTube (to be fair, any flash mob video featuring spontaneous choreography should be described as eerie). Titled “Dance Your Shoes Off,” at the end of the video the dancers removed their brand new shoes which were later collected and donated to homeless people, adding a service element to the whole experience.

Keep on Dancing
Such a public event does have the benefit of multiple perspectives. It’s not limited to the official video. Loads of people watching the event can be seen snapping pictures and taking cell phone video. These alternate perspectives show up online, spreading the core idea even further. Involving so many people also offers more ways to spread the story, as participants can share their story: “Each time I watch the video I get a little emotional looking at all of those shoes laying on the lawn.”

And at some point people start to have fun with it, like this version that ditched the auto-tuned worship in favor of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Building that kind of excitement and energy around something your church is doing is pretty cool. Never mind the 700,000 views.

It’s also an opportunity to challenge misconceptions:

“My mom was surprised. She said, ‘I didn’t think Baptists danced,’ and I told her, ‘Well, this Baptist church dances,’” Carla Bradley told the Believe It Or Not blog.

“We thought that video was a great way to capture the essence of the identity that Christians can have fun and enjoy life and celebrate what Jesus did for us,” Curt Taylor of Second Baptist Church told Fox 26.

Going International
The Houston dancers weren’t the only ones busting a move on Easter Sunday. The folks behind the original Budapest dance-a-thon, Up to Faith, have been busy organizing an international movement with the hopes of putting together another viral sensation.

It might be a little too much pizzazz for some people and others are quick to criticize how late to the flash mob game the church is, but whatever. I’m not a big fan of flash mobs—bunch of weirdos. But getting that many people talking about Easter while doing some good is pretty cool. Cheesy or not, I’d call it a win.

Super Sunday: Planning Easter for Your ChurchNeed More? 3 Easter Resources:

  1. Get more Easter ideas with our growing collection of articles, examples, and more.
  2. Check out our book, Super Sunday: Planning Easter for Your Church, for tips on how to plan, promote, and survive Easter.
  3. Go deeper for even more Easter resources and join our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site. You'll get access to downloadable resources including planners, guides, worksheets, graphics, and more.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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7 Responses to “Holy Flash Mob”

  • bruce crews
    May 16, 2011

    Any time we are able to expose humanity to the love and free gift of Christ, I say that’s a homerun. The exposure this video had, both good and bad, made a difference in at least one person’s life.

    Being able to use Nirvana is only an added bonus.

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  • Vince
    May 16, 2011

    I think it’s a prime example of the failing to understand context and voice that the American Church really struggles with.

    It seams as though they were hoping that ‘non-christians’ would be exposed to the event or the video and be compelled to pursue further the truths of God because of the experience. In the eyes of our culture this is at best a peculiar event accompanied by a strange song and at worst it is downright corny.

    Was it wrong or bad? No…it was full of virtue for Christians who appreciate this sort of thing. I’m not sure we should be patting ourselves on the back celebrating a viral video the was almost entirely viewed by Christians…again, nothing wrong with that.

    Kudos to FBC for the effort, I would just like to see this kind of effort and resources also be put toward efforts and content that reach culture.

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  • Chris Desrochers
    May 17, 2011

    Crazy! Social media is an incredible tool the church can use to reach people both for the good and bad. I’m actually offering a free online workshops this Thursday to teach pastors and church leaders how to use social media to reach more people. I only have 10 spaces remaining before our event hits capacity. I would love for you to join me. Date: Thursday, May 19, 2011 Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CST (US)
    RSVP: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1571419157/cms

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  • Paul Steinbrueck
    May 26, 2011

    I have mixed feelings about this. I love the creativity and fun that’s involved in the video. The practical side of me wonders though, what impact these 2,000 people could have had if they had spent all those hours serving the people of Houston – feeding the homeless, visiting people in nursing homes, or helping to fix up the homes of people unable to do so for themselves? But would video of 2,000 people serving their community go viral?

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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      May 26, 2011

      Viral has to be easy/fun.

      Serving your community is often hard/boring.

      Ha, great thoughts Paul.

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  • hope hammond
    June 11, 2011

    This was positive, fun and creative. The culture needs to see this side of Christians. We can have fun. We do smile. We are creative. We do crazy stuff bc we love Jesus and people. We tend to be viewed as serious naysayers. We are now known more for what we’re against that what we’re for. I applaud this group for sharing the message of good news like this. I loved the service aspect in donating the shoes. Some may say this was cheesy, but aren’t most flash mob activities? Yet we still watch them. Out of all those who see this, not all are going to be other Christians, although many Christians would do well to see this and be affected by it. We do have the good news of Jesus. We can have fun with that. It may not cause people to want to dig deep into Scriptural truths, but it does add a positive vibe to Christianity. It could be planting a seed or watering an already existing one. That’s a good thing. =)

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  • Paul
    September 12, 2011

    Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

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