Qwikster vs iPad
I got a very personal email from Reed Hastings (of Netflix fame) tonight. He seems really sorry for how he hurt my feelings and all. I really appreci…what? You got it, too? Oh, I hate it when my bubble bursts like that!
Well, it brings up a point about change. The world changed so fast twice recently. Analog to digital. Then prosperous to lean times. Bam-bam! It’s enough to make an entrepreneur jumpy! Or a church consultant paranoid. Many have thought that we just need to stay ahead of the curve. Change now BEFORE we need to. Change the church culture every 18 months. Make it seem fresh. That’s one way. But a certain number of people (more so in church than other places) fall into a pattern and like the rhythm. So they don’t like change for change’s sake. It creates problems. On the other hand some of these same folks could decide that the same has become stale and they don’t like it anymore. So you can’t just stay the same, either.
But pleasing people isn’t the way to please people in the long run. In the church we have an unchanging mission. Our methods need to be flexible but solid. Not surprisingly I turn to Apple as an example here. Over 20 of the last 30 years they’ve given people the very best products they didn’t know they needed yet. They’ve managed to be out in front of the culture, exploring what’s possible with current technology without compromising their mission. They’ve found the solid ground and started building on it so they were ready when the culture caught up. They’ve managed to hold onto what’s best about tradition while keeping the experience fresh. It never seems like change for change’s sake. In the worst economy they are just about the only profitable company. More cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury. And the mission is safe.
So is there a lesson in the Netflix-Apple soup? I don’t think Reed came clean. They just sold the streaming way too cheap by originally convincing the studios it was an experiment. When it took off the deal was DOA. Now we have Qwikster! Seriously? 2 websites? Ugh! Maybe change just to shake things up is a little reckless. And maybe sometimes in the church we need to offer people something they don’t understand they need yet. But part of our calling is to help them see it. So what are some of the ways we can get out in front of culture? What is now possible that seemed impossible a few years ago? What element of our mission can be enhanced by possible changes? Then what are the solid methods and tools we can build for people to help them go to the next level of missional living? What’s the iPad of the Christian experience? It’s gonna look different in almost every local church. It’s whatever takes people from wherever they are to more closely in step with Jesus. Last time I checked, it can’t come too soon for many of our churches. I think we’ve done the iChurch, MYchurch thing to death. But a church that truly exists for its non-members? A church that’s about sacrificing all to glorify God and serve the world? If we have a solid enough foundation. If we make it clear. If we’re fiercely committed to the mission. That’s a church just about anyone would like to serve in. Some of them just don’t know it yet… How can we help them see?