Change is a reality. We can recognize and deal with it or let it run over us.
Kodak is a prime example. A success for many years, changing technology finally caught up with them. They thought they were in the film and camera business when they should have recognized they were in the picture business.
First came digitization, which allows us to take and store photographs in a digital form rather than on film. One can only see how the executives at Kodak once laughed at that silly concept. Yet soon, millions of people were storing their favorite images on their computers – then on their phones – rather than on paper. And then they discarded the camera and began taking photos with those same phones.
A February 17 article in The Wall Street Journal observed, “In 1996 Kodak employed 140,000 people and had a market value of $28 billion. In January 2012, it filed for bankruptcy. Instagram was founded in October 2010 and was bought by Facebook in April 2012 for $1 billion. It had 13 employees at the time.”
The last buggy whip maker survived for a while, but it was all gone. Kodak was the final buggy whip maker of old-school photography. Unfortunately, many of our churches are the last buggy whip makers in their neighborhoods – clinging to the methods that comforted the flock in the 1950s but oblivious to the changing culture around them.
As organizations like Kodak didn’t do, we need to focus on our actual mission, not cling to outdated methodology. We are not in the pews and parsons business – we are in the gospel business. We are not called to defend and adhere to our grandparents’ methods to grow churches in their generation. We are called to be students of both scripture and culture to determine how to most effectively communicate God’s truth to a lost and dying world.