A few years ago, I hosted a 10-year anniversary event for a European nonprofit satellite TV network. The formal event was held in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Before the dinner, we were taken on a tour of the presidential museum, of Ronald and Nancy’s private quarters and even were given a tour of Air Force One, majestically enshrined in its own wing of the museum. As we walked through the exhibits—particularly the areas chronicling President Reagan’s role in the fall of the Soviet Union—I was captivated by a powerful inscription on the wall of the exhibit. It was a quote from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin:
“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”
The quotation stands in clear testimony to the power of ideas and just how desperately the Soviet Union attempted to control those ideas. Today, that scenario is being played out as the government of Iran desperately studies how China has grown their economy while still controlling the political ideas of its population. In fact, in 2012, the Chinese Communist Party reaffirmed their ban on religion for all members. They want the booming economy that innovation brings while, at the same time, controlling the ideas that make innovation happen.
Just like the former Soviet Union, and now China, the leadership of Iran understands the explosive power of ideas. How often do you think about the power of storytelling to create a life-changing impression of you and your organization in the minds of your viewers, church members, partners, visitors and supporters? It’s not about manipulation, but about helping people clearly understand who you are and how you can impact their lives.
The media today is a digital cacophony of voices and images. To stand out in that ocean of choices takes more than excellent sermons, quality resources, professional programs and good intentions. Without a great idea and story to tie them all together, you’ve lost the battle.
Remember Stalin: Ideas are more powerful than guns.
You may not have financing, resources, employees, or other support for your project. But you do have ideas. Now get out there in the battle!