Change is a reality. We can recognize and deal with it, or we can let it run over us.
Kodak is a prime example. A successful organization for decades, changing technology finally caught up with the organization. Management thought it was in the film and camera business when it should have recognized it was 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 imagine 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. Then they discarded the camera altogether and began taking photos with those same phones.
As a Feb. 17, 2015, article in The Wall Street Journal noted, “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 thrived for a while, but then it was all gone. Kodak was the last 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As organizations such as Kodak didn’t do, we need to focus on our real mission, not cling to outdated methodology.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 cling to the methodologies that our grandparents used to grow churches in their generations. We are called to be students of Scripture and culture so we can determine how to communicate God’s truth most effectively to a lost and dying world.