When I was taking piano lessons early on in life, I had a bad habit of pounding on the keys. In music terms, I loved fortissimo. “Very loud” came very easy to me. Then my piano teacher taught me the value of dynamics. She explained how beautiful music isn’t just achieved by hitting the right notes–it’s also a reflection of the dynamics. The power of fortissimo doesn’t grab our attention in music unless we also embrace the pianissimo, the very soft movements.
Have you ever been in public when a parent blows a gasket and starts yelling at their child but gets no response? Here’s my bet. The very first time the parent reacted like that, their child responded. The reason why kids choose to ignore a yelling parent is because it’s a learned response. Kids are smart. It doesn’t take them long to learn that if a parent constantly yells but never follows through with any real punishment, then they can ignore the screams.
Loud is only effective when it’s louder than normal. If it’s always loud, then loud becomes the new normal. In other words, loud is not loud anymore.
The same principle holds when we’re trying to promote something in ministry. Here’s how it works. You commit to a promotions campaign to get people to a new series or a big event. You decide to go loud. You buy the billboards, print the fliers, hang the banners, create the viral videos and announce to the world, “This is going to be the best deal ever!” That’s great. The first time it may work. And, chances are it could work, again, sometime in the future as long as you have some long pianissimo movements in between.
But, if you choose to go loud with every series and every event, people will get smart. They’ll soon learn that “loud” really means “normal.” When that happens, you’ll be spending a lot more time, energy and money, but people will learn to ignore your yelling. Loud will not be loud anymore.
Before you “pull out all the stops,” make sure you’re really going to deliver what you promise. It better really be the best deal ever. If not, all that yelling will eventually lead to you losing your voice–your message will lose credibility. People will stop believing you, and they’ll stop responding to your message.
If everything is loud, nothing is loud.