The Bystander Effect

One of the great pleasures of life is finding a really cool and interesting video online. Of course most of them involve a cute kid or a funny animal, but every once in a while, you find one that will actually teach you something. Well, today I stumbled across a great video. You can check it out below.

If you got a chance to watch it, you saw that it describes something called the "bystander effect." Simply stated, it is the concept that people tend to blend into the crowd. When you see someone in need, you are more likely to help when you are the only person around. When you are surrounded by a crowd, your psychology tends to assume that someone else will help. 

I would love to assume that the bystander effect isn't true, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is real. So it begs the question, are you a part of the crowd, are you a bystander, or are you the person who will see a need and lend a hand? As followers of Jesus, what kind of person should we be? I believe that the story of the good Samaritan, recorded in Luke 10, tells us the type of person that Jesus calls us to be. Jesus' followers should help even when no one else is helping. Jesus' followers are called to love with words and with action. 

The interesting thing about the bystander effect is that it actually works in reverse too. People in a crowd tend to follow the example of others. Many people in the crowd are just waiting for someone else to have the courage to step up first. When you step up and do the right thing, you never know how it might encourage someone else to take that leap of faith. 

So what do we do with this at Christmas time? Let me encourage you to consider ways that you can be a trend setter. One of the most important ways of doing this is to simply have the courage to spread the truth about Jesus this Christmas. So for me, I bought some cookie dough, some plastic treat bags, and picked up some invitations to our Christmas eve service. I then went to my neighbors and delivered Christmas cookies and an invitation. It doesn't matter than no one else in my neighborhood does anything like that. Who knows, maybe I will start a trend. And wouldn't it be nice to have more cookies and more Jesus at Christmas time.