Amazon vs the Local Church
Nearly twenty five years ago my parents bought our first computer. The Tandy 1000 SL was a beast of a computer with a full 8 MHz and 384K of computing power, it weighed in at just over thirty-three pounds. In order to buy this beauty my parents headed out to Radio Shack, where they worked with a salesman to figure out which model was the right one for our family, while learning a whole new vocabulary along the way (seriously, who knew what a byte was back then). The whole process took months.
I recently bought a new laptop. My friend Curtis is a huge help when it comes to this kind of thing. Over the course of a couple of conversations he was able to recommend several options that made sense for what I need a laptop to do, at a reasonable cost. That done, I then researched the computers he suggested to find the best price for the one I decided on. I did everything over the internet (is that cheating on my old laptop?), never once setting foot in a store. The entire process took a day or so, a week if you include shipping time, and I didn’t have to talk to a salesman or leave my office.
Over the weekend, Theresa and I were driving to Albany when we heard a story about the struggle that brick and mortar retailers are having competing with their online competitors. The story went on to share the major difference between traditional retailers that were barely surviving, and those that were succeeding, was their intentional focus on the in-store experience. The successful stores realized that they have more overhead, and probably will not beat the Amazons and Zappos of the world, so they had better find something that set them apart. Their solution? Excellent customer service providing an incredible in-store experience.
As I have been thinking about that news story, and my recent laptop buying experience, I can’t help but see parallels for the local church. For many years the local church has been the place to get teaching and instruction on all things spiritual. Because of this monopoly, many churches began to see themselves as a content delivery system, viewing Sunday morning as the focus of their efforts, and preaching as the reason that they existed (with congregational worship as a distant second). Over the last ten years the internet has changed all that, providing high-quality, on-demand, spiritual content that can be consumed as needed. With all the podcasts, worship albums, and blog posts that have suddenly become available, many people have begun to silently ask the question, “why do I really need to go to a local church when I get everything I need here?”
Over the next several years these questions are going to become more frequent, and much louder. Much like brick and mortar retailers, local church leaders must be able to clearly answer “why is the church so important” without words, and before they are asked.
How does YOUR church answer the question “why do I really need to go to church” without words?
Blatant sales pitch time: If you are trying to figure this out, I would love to help… this is a big part of what we do in our cohorts, and in one on one coaching environments. Interested in having someone walk through this with you? Click here, and let’s talk!