12.27.2021 – LOS ANGELES, CA
The other day, I came upon a key quote for ministry as I was reading up on How Shopify Outfoxed Amazon to Become the Everywhere Store (Bloomberg):
Amazon celebrates the almighty customer. Shopify, on the other hand, has a romantic view of the [seller or entrepreneur].
01. THE CONTEXT
The more I think about it, the more I see that the basic dynamic for local church membership has been a lot more like Amazon than like Shopify:
- (Buy, or) Learn about God in community. Then,
- Evaluate (or give a review of) the Pastor and programs (5 stars, for you, always).
In other words:
- Come and participate. Then,
- Become a leader and have an opinion about things.
I know that this is an oversimplification, sorry – my point, in general, is that the orientation of ministry is typically around membership as like a stake that people hold of the ministry itself.
What often results for ministry leaders are:
- a chase for congregational satisfaction of pastoral performance and programs
- a loss of focus on the needs and wants of those outside of membership
02. POINT OF INNOVATION
However, if ministry were to be more like Shopify, the orientation would be more like:
- “Member-as-Maker (or Creator).” Not so much,
- “Member-as-Customer (or Stakeholder)”
This brings us to our Ministry Essential for today:
Any ministry in the digital-first era must clearly state how it helps people make, create, or achieve their need or desire.
The temptation for 99.999% of local churches is to focus on identity and belonging through community (and membership).
There is nothing morally or theologically wrong with that, but look – here’s a quick test:
- Think of the top 5 websites or apps that you use (and/or pay for)
- Ask yourself, “How many of those do you patron because you feel like you belong to their community or values?”
I am almost certain that it does not go beyond half of your top 5 (which technically is 2.5, but you get what I mean).
- People today identify with a mission (as in, an idea), and
- People want brands and/or organizations to belong to them (not always the other way around)
03. NEXT STEPS
So, let’s say we gave it a try – this whole Maker / Creator / Achiever thing. What would ministry be like?
Well, here’s a few possibilities:
- Social Media – Posting media and messages that demonstrate how the ministry understands what people are going for in life.
- Community Engagement – Initiatives that neither give everything away nor take things from people, but that allow people to use as an asset for their life goals.
- Sundays – Narratives about people who were able to discern what were the ultimate things to make, create, and/or achieve in and through life.
Finally, some might disagree, object, and be wanting to tell me, “Well, hold on, James. That sounds pretty self-serving and selfish for people to want everything else to be about them. What about giving and serving and such?”
- To that, I would say, “Yes! Actually, funny enough, that’s exactly how people outside of the Church see the Church: self-serving and selfish, demanding of people their whole life’s devotion as if the Church itself were God.”
And, if you are interested in discerning more along these lines, take a look below at our January 2022 assembly.
James from PASTORIA
Head of Platform