My goal in this book is to infect you with what Seth Godin calls an Ideavirus. An ideavirus is an idea that is so compelling you just can’t quit thinking about it. It is so intriguing that you can’t get it off your mind. You find yourself talking to others about it, who get infected with the virus and tell others who tell others who tell others.
As the idea spreads, people tend to improve it and it becomes more potent. They think about it, tweak it, upgrade it, play with it, experiment with it, try things in the real world, learn from what they do, and the idea gets better and better and better.
I didn’t invent this idea. Old school writers who lived and died before I was born spoke of it. Though not stated in exactly the terms I will use, it is found in Flake’s famous formula for Sunday School work. He spoke of “enlarging the organization.” What he meant was growing and dividing groups.
Ultimately, it goes back to the Bible. The Ideavirus can be summarized in one word: Double. They key verse in all the Bible is (think about this; this is kind of cool) 2 Timothy 2.2. Doubling is, or course, about multiplying by two. The key verse on doubling: 2 Timothy 2.2. Only God could work that out.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Tim. 2:2 (NIV)
Think about this. Is it within the realm of possibility that Paul said this, not only to Timothy, but to a few other people? Imagine that, in the course of Paul’s missionary work, he said this to three other people, for a total of four. And, just to make it easier to picture, imagine that they are all in one church.
Paul said he entrusted these things in the presence of many witnesses. We don’t know how many witnesses. It could be ten and it could be two hundred. Let’s suppose it is ten. If Paul said this to four other people, and each person has a group of ten, we now have a church of fifty. Seen in an organizational chart, it looks like this:
If each of these boxes represent ten people, then we have fifty people in our church, but Paul doesn’t stop there. He writes, “The things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will be able to teach others.” Imagine that Timothy and the three others entrusted to four others each. Each one has a group of ten. Now it looks like this:
If each one of these boxes represents a group of ten people (many witnesses) we now have two hundred and ten in our church. But, Paul didn’t stop there. He went on to say, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be able to teach others.” If each of then entrusted to four others, we now have a church of eight hundred and sixty.
This is the amazing power of doubling groups, spelled out for us in scripture, and, as we will see, happening in spades in many, many places around the world. I have been infected with this ideavirus for a long time. I just can’t get over it. I can’t quit thinking about it. I have worked full-time casting a vision for this idea for eight years now. I will do a hundred conferences this year. I just passed a million lifetime miles on American Airlines alone. All of that trying to get the message out about the power of doubling groups. I just can’t quit thinking about it. I just can’t quit talking about it. I just can’t quit praying about it. And my prayer is that you will get infected too.
Someone asked me over salmon at Applebee’s recently, “Josh, what is the passion of your life?” Without having to think very long I said, “doubling groups.”