No, not customer evangelists….Christian evangelists. As an example of how to scale customer-centric marketing, John Hagan offered a recent Malcolm Glawell article on Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in California and author of The Purpose-Driven Life. Here’s a link to Gladwell’s article. The point of the comparison is this — though Saddleback Church is very large (20,000 members, more or less), the church is divided into small groups according to interests. For example, a group of bikers are bonded around their motorcycles. This is not uncommon in very large churches and in fact has been pointed to a number of times by churches and denominations as exactly the way the Christian church got started — people gathering together according to affiliation by interest, proximity, relation, etc., and worshipping together in homes.
Disclaimers on all levels: I read Gladwell’s article when it came out and loved it; I read Warren’s book about a year after it became a big sensation and didn’t like it all that much; and I myself participate in a small interest-focused group as part of my 3000-member Methodist church (the group’s interest is acoustic and folk music of all kinds, both playing it and listening to it live).