“church” is changing fast. It is insane the changes I have witnessed over just the last 10 years.
However, the next 10 years could be even more incredible. If I was employed as a pastor, or a minister in the plethora of paid staff in a church, I would be figuring out how to survive (or keep my job).
New pressures are coming in different directions, and are taking their toll on the “Jesus” industry, and “churches” have to adapt if they want to survive. Competition is more intense than it has ever been. There are so many different places to go that fit exactly what consumers want. With all the new channels for selling a “brand” of Jesus that are now available, churches have a huge number of ways to reach consumers.
There is Facebook, cable channels, satellites buildings, dvd’s, movies, and on and on…
I forecast markets for a living, so I want to take my future predicting abilities to look into the future of church retail … or what I will call “churchtailers”.
The same approaches are likely being applied at many of the big box retailers we shop at today.
I think some of the Jesus “brands” out there will die quickly, but others will be like Mad Cow disease and waste the internal brain of the man-made organization more slowly… and unfortunately many of these “systems” will survive (ignoring the community at large)
I also think “churchtailers” will lay out new ways to survive. I think there will be a bunch of cost cutting, where the big box churches will have to optimize in a bunch of new and inventive ways, even if it is extremely painful… and it will be! Pastors are going to have to become really good at selling their product.
Today’s “church” business is like a modern-day battlefield. And, just like the war zones of today, the enemy (other “churchtailers”) might not fight with the same methods. Protection, and the way you move are considered “must” principles when you are fighting in extreme combat. As seen on many different battlefields of today, an enemy can infiltrate from the inside, hide among the “churchgoers”, and could even plant some internal explosive devices to fool his adversary.
In the “church” context this would translate to smaller, fast growing, and modern digital extensions challenging already established “churchtailers” on their own home turf. It could also be looked at like a bunch of consumers joining together to create another market for the local “churchgoers”. This brings in the opportunity to buy into the latest Jesus products from the new established satellite church, and from a new perspective.
So you move in using social media and other branded content to build a stronger, more loyal customer base without attracting attention from the other “churchtailers”. In short, the future is not what it used to be, but rather a confusing place where the established marketing methodologies of the local “churchtailers” may well be undermined by their newer, more dynamic adversaries who are potentially better placed to fully meet the marketing challenges created by new and emerging markets that churchgoers want.
In the new world of “church” then, as on the typical modern-day battlefield, size is not necessarily an advantage anymore. Instead, over what is likely to be an economically turbulent next 10 years (regardless of whom is elected “prez” next month), churches will need to be able to move swiftly in order to adapt to consumers’ rapidly changing preferences. Some of the Jesus “brands” of yesterday will die, some with an explosive bang, and some like Mad Cow disease.
The future is the “church” who can adapt to the next decennial consumers.
These consumers will need to spend less, put off major purchases, and go with cheaper Jesus products. They will need to find the cheaper, more efficiently run, and most cost-effective church. The next decade could bring a recession that could lead to a bunch of vacant church buildings. It might look like a big box church graveyard. At least then we can have places that can actually bring in the marginalized where the homeless could have a place to stay.
Just like the debt the US and Europe owe, a lot of churches are swimming in it too. The ironic thing is churches will have to act Darwinian to survive. They will need to be the most responsive to change, they will need to adapt, and they will need to evolve.
I do not know if this is a dream of mine where the “churchtailers” of the world need to be hit by a recession hard enough for them to actually see Jesus, or this is just the way the world is going to continue using the endless possibilities to communicate to customers to stay alive.
My guess is the smarter “churchtailers” will starve out their competition, and they will continue on the journey of complete bullshit that has become Christianity today.