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 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 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 altogether and began taking photos with those same phones.
As 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 awhile, 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 1950’s but oblivious to the changing culture around them.
As organizations like Kodak didn’t do, the church needs to focus on our real mission, not cling to outdated methodology.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 generation. We are called to be students of both scripture and culture, so that we can determine how to most effectively communicate God’s truth to a lost and dying world.
Michael Duduit is founding Dean of the College of Christian Studies and the Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University. He also serves as Professor of Christian Ministry. He is the founder and still serves as Executive Editor of Preaching magazine, one of the nation’s premier publications for pastors. His email newsletter, Preaching Now, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences. He is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Joy in Ministry: Messages from Second Corinthians, Preaching with Power: Dynamic Insights from Twenty Top Communicators and Communicate With Power.