3 Things Bible Study Groups can Learn from the new Star Wars movie preview

"Chewie....we're home"
“Chewie….we’re home”

I remember watching the original Star Wars movie when it was first released in 1977. I, like most everyone who saw the movie, was captivated by the amazing special effects (way ahead of their time back in 1977), the creativity of George Lucas to create alien characters and landscapes, and the story of good versus evil characters. I was transported into director George Lucas’ grand vision of a galaxy far, far, away. Today we are on the verge of an entire new series of Star Wars movies being released, starting with Episode 7 in December 2015. Have you seen the second trailer that ends with two of our favorite characters back in familiar surroundings? It’s the talk of the internet this week.

You may have seen the second theatrical trailer that was released this past week. People have lit up the blogosphere, guessing as to plot elements revealed by the brief movie trailer. Is the desert planet Tatooine, or another one we haven’t seen yet? Why have Han Solo and his faithful sidekick Chewbacca been separated from their beloved Millennium Falcon? Who’s the new bad guy wielding a lightsaber with a cross guard on it? Who is the woman being handed a lightsaber?

3 Things Bible Study Groups Can Learn

Amazingly, there are some lessons to be learned from Disney and the release of the two Star Wars 7 movie previews. Disney is no doubt going to keep teasing us and releasing additional previews about the plot of episode 7 and the fate of our favorite characters. Are there any lessons to be learned from Hollywood’s slow drip of information about the soon-to-be-released seventh Star Wars movie? I can think of three:

1.  We take for granted the power of the preview. It takes time to build excitement, and crowds need to hear something multiple times before they “get it.” Hollywood has learned the power of the preview. The studios tease us with quick glimpses of our heroes, funny lines (just look at the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie preview), or dramatic scenes full of action and suspense. Hollywood studios do this for months in advance of the release of a movie.  Now think about the transition from one Bible study to another in your group. Do you intentionally build suspense and anticipation for the next study your group is going to experience? What might happen to your attendance if you began publicizing the new study a few weeks before your group starts it rather than the week before you begin? Plan ahead and let the idea of a new study percolate with your group members.

2.  Curiosity can be your friend. Most of us are naturally curious, and we motivated to explore and discover when our curiosity has been piqued.  As your Bible study group is coming to the end of one study, begin giving clues about the next one your group will participate in together. What clues can you give them about the author of the study? How can you tease them by releasing clues about the title and topic of your next study? Be creative!

3.  Let word-of-mouth work for you. One reason you and I have to sit through a barrage of movie previews every time we go to the movies is because Hollywood movie marketers know that if they can capture our attention in a two-minute preview, chances are good we’ll start talking about it with our friends; there’s nothing quite like word-of-mouth advertising – it’s the best! If you preview an upcoming Bible study and provide a compelling reason for your group members to be excited about it, chances are they will take to their favorite social media and share their excitement. Just this past week I sent the a promo video to the group members of a Bible study I lead; it’s a 30 second clip that advertises our next study. I am counting on them posting that video clip on Facebook, and perhaps even sending out a tweet via Twitter; I’ve asked them to pass the video clip along through email to friends that might be interested in joining our group for this next study.

And there you have it. 3 lessons we can learn from the Star Wars 7 movie preview. What’s Luke Skywalker been up to all these years? Did Han and Princess Leia ever get married and have kids? Where’s C3PO? And what’s up with that Chrome Trooper?

Learn a lesson from some pretty smart Hollywood marketers and make the power of the preview work for you and your Bible study group!

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