7 Ways to Disrupt Your Church

As some have suggested, it might take some disruptive innovation to get an existing church to think missionally, so here’s some helpful hints on how to do that (from Fast Company magazine):

    'WoCRIG Process - Step 1' photo (c) 2008, wocrig - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
  1. Totally eliminate your industry’s persistent customer pain points — What practices exist in your church that drive people crazy? Identify these practices and “wipe them out.” Ask yourself: Can we turn our perspective around, to look through the lay person’s eyes as though they were the church leadership and we were the lay person?
  2. Dramatically reduce complexity — “The more complex the processes and practices in your industry, the greater your opportunity to gain competitive advantage by simplifying them.”
  3. Cut prices 90 percent (or more) — “Incremental change doesn’t disrupt an industry; radical change does. Radical price reductions require radical new processes and business models.”
  4. Make stupid objects smart — “The race is on to make everything smart, and the dumber your products were to begin with, the greater the opportunity to make them smart.” Hmmmm …
  5. Teach your company to talk — “No one owns the customer, and you either do what’s best for the customer or you will lose him. … What happens if your competitors’ companies talk, but yours doesn’t?” I think this point speaks directly to the growing trend of “multiple ecclesial belonging.”
  6. Be utterly transparent — “Think: not just no secrets, but also no spin. … What if your company didn’t simply try to stop hiding, but instead radically embraced the truth? … The truth is coming, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it?
  7. Make loyalty dramatically easier than disloyalty — “By definition, when companies act smart they are personalizing the way they interact with and serve customers. Once you start delivering personalization, you create immense opportunities to make loyalty more convenient than disloyalty. … The challenge is to make loyalty so much more convenient, so radically easy, that customers won’t even consider switching to a competitor. Ever.”

What does all this have to do with church ministry and making the missional shift? You tell me!

  • http://workingonmyrewrite.blogspot.com/ bob c

    Cut prices 90 percent (or more) .

    What happens when churches no longer can underwrite “paid” ministry and “dedicated” facilities.

    Dont get me wrong – some of my best friends are pastors. And I am way too fond of old church buildings.

    But…..serving the legacy costs “forms” communities of faith in ways that are not always healthy.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Well, that was the low-hanging fruit, Bob, but thanks for posting that comment! ;-) I’d really be curious to hear what you think about some of the more difficult stuff here, like “Make stupid objects smart” or “Teach your company to talk” … How does those apply to church ministry!?

  • http://www.preachermom41.wordpress.com Catherine Davis

    Hey Steve! Love this and may use “Make stupid objects smart” in my dissertation!

    My take on that is for years the church has jumped on the newest technology in order to “attract” people into their buildings. While that may work for a bit, many mega churches have discovered that people were really hungering for the things that might have been labeled “stupid” by modernity – things like studying the scripture, participating in the sacraments, prayer, building relationships with others (just to name a few). It is time for a radical re-imagining of the old traditions; not brought back from the past but re-formed for the 21st century.

    On another note – If you haven’t read Loving to Know: Covenant Epistemology by Esther Lightcap Meek, I highly recommend it.

    I surely miss the Emerging Church Cohort in Charlotte and after I finish up my dissertation I hope to start one here in Central Oregon.

  • http://www.iedat.com Kathy M

    I’m all for disrupting the church, to shake people out of the business-as-usual mode of thinking. But to me these ideas feed into the model of church-goer as consumer, as if the purpose of church is to provide a product that consumers either want to pay for, or don’t (more likely). This is one of the themes that came across to me at the FMC conference: that we have to get away from viewing ourselves as producers of “stuff” and congregants as consumers.
    It is very hard, I know. I am a small business owner and I like to think that the church will apply the best ideas in business to its own conduct. Some of it does apply and yet, I wonder how much of it is counterproductive because we really need to break out of this type of thinking and work on discipling people who are seeking meaning in their lives.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      One of the major goals of applying concepts of disruptive innovation to the church is to break us out of the consumer mindset so many of us have been deeply formed by. But you may be right, Kathy, even the introduction of these ideas from the corporate/business world may be undermining those attempts by reinforcing a corporate/business/consumer model … hmmm …

      I certainly think it’s fair to say that not all insights from the corporate world are going to “fit” in the church ministry world (and probably never should “fit”). And I think that’s evident by how awkwardly at least a few of these items sit when placed in the church context. Which was the reason I asked the question at the end of my post the way that I did ;-)

      • http://www.iedat.com Kathy M

        OK, now that we’ve established that, let me say that transparency, reduced complexity and an open-source attitude have great potential to transform both business and church in positive ways. (Sorry to employ that over-used word, “transform”; maybe “shift” is better). These three things buck the trend but have the effect of a fresh breeze. I don’t know if they make a business more “successful” but they do contribute to better customer relations.

        • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

          Great thoughts, Kathy! I agree 100% re: transparency, reduced complexity, and open-source. Let those fresh breezes blow! And we will probably need to redefine “success” along the way.

  • Brian

    #2, 5, and 6 are winners. I’d rework #3 to focus on a lean value system, and ministry by the community. Concerning #7, I’m more concerned with loyalty to Christ and his Gospel, than I am a given faith community.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      good thoughts, Brian, thanks for sharing them!


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