Opinion Leadership in the Church

Seth Godin - Famous Opinion Leader

Seth Godin – Famous Opinion Leader

This past year I noticed something fascinating about my personal influence with others. I have a reputation among my friends & colleagues for being very efficient and productive. When I stumbled across a new tool for managing tasks, projects & people I naturally shared my find with those around me. I sent a few emails, wrote a couple of posts and engaged in some personal conversations about it.

None of that is fascinating. 

What is interesting to me has been people’s response. A lot of people have already incorporated this tool into their own lives, and have also become evangelists for it.

Today I was doing some research and stumbled across a term called “Opinion Leadership“. An opinion leader has a much stronger chance to influence those around him than others, because people hold his opinion in high regard for some reason, in this case because of my expertise in productivity.

It begs the question, “Who are the opinion leaders at your church?”

Understand, an opinion leader is not the same thing as a leader. It’s possible they have influence because of a competence, but it’s just as possible their influence is related to their outstanding character, history in the church, position in the community and more. In fact, it may be that a positional leader in the church has little true influence with the congregation compared to an opinion leader.

The opinion leader is most certainly someone to invest time getting to know. He or she will play a big role in encouraging or discouraging whatever new initiative you are attempting to roll out to the congregation. One of the most strategic activities you can do is to identify your opinion leaders and include them in your new initiative, in some way, early on. The more likely that they grab hold of your vision, the more likely others will adopt it as well.

What are you doing to strengthen your relationship with the opinion leaders at your church?

photo credit: jurvetson via photopin cc

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  • Mike Kim June 11, 2013  

    Great post, Wayne. I’ve never thought of the concept of an “opinion leader” but it’s very apparent in all of society. I suppose the big difference between an opinion leader and a critic is that an opinion leader actually has some legitimate weight to what they say! =) Thanks for sharing this insight.

  • Wayne Hedlund June 12, 2013  

    Thanks Mike! It’s unfortunate, but true that opinion leaders could be either critical people in the church or critical thinkers. I’d take the thinkers any day, but the critical people are what make church leadership so challenging. So I wouldn’t worry too much about the critic who has little weight, but those who do, ugh.