I’ve come to a conclusion about churches. I’ve been studying biographies of churches—all kinds of churches, healthy and unhealthy, for a long time. I think marketing brain trust Seth Godin has the final word on church renewal and change. From his blog entitled, “People who like this stuff”: “It’s a little like the futility of the ‘Under New Management’ sign on a restaurant. People who like the place don’t want to hear you’re changing everything, and people who don’t like the old place aren’t in such a hurry for a new place that they’ll form a line….” Established churches are pretty much what they want to be. Insiders envision the attenders as Owners, Renters and Squatters. “Owners” will fight to protect their property—the way things are done and what is legitimate. They are not waiting around for a clerical immigrant to come and fix it. All of this takes on a sharp edge as churches look to minister to the Millennials—the largest generation ever to occupy the earth. Without exception, churches want to reach them, but most are unwilling to change the way things are done to speak their language. Churches tend to want the Millennials to do the adapting. So my conclusion: Churches probably are one or two generation organizations. Any sociologist will give you details. Today’s church attempts to reach across five generations and be inviting to all seldom works. Rather than frustrating everyone and establishing fire fights and battle zones, established churches should birth new churches with a one generation focus. The new church’s leadership, if wise and desirous of longevity, will reach out to their older generation friends to bring balance and wisdom. We visit a church regularly which effectively reaches across the generations. They give an altar call each week with a team of 8-12 altar workers who pray with a broad range of seekers. I have seen a five year old leading his dad wearing baggy jeans and tattoos to the altar to be prayed for by an older business man in a 3-piece suit. The basic core of the people (“Owners”)…
- Crave to be in God’s presence
- Crave to hear and ingest God’s word
- Crave interaction with God’s family
- Crave to see the lost found
I have visited a few thousand churches to find a few like this one. I’ve been studying The Power of Habit—a book by Charles Duhigg. (Random House, 2012). A habit always depends on a habit loop: Cue (trigger) which leads to a routine to gain a desired reward. Research proves that the Cue > Routine > Reward loop needs one more ingredient to hold it together or to explain it: Craving. To change a habit means to find a craving that is more powerful than the old one. Church renewal happens when people begin to crave being in God’s house, crave ministering to each other and acquire a craving to find the lost. One of the older books mentioned above says, “God wants His lost children found!” How do we establish a craving?
- Show evidence that the product is working—called testimonies.
- Understand the consumer’s desired reward—demographics and psychographics
- Stimulate and feed the new craving based on the reward the specific group desires
- Establish the workable alternative routine.
I hope the vagueness will provoke you to read and then talk to me about the contents of the “Habit” book. Talk to me ©2014 D. Dean Benton. http://www.bentonministries.com/ Facebook: Benton Quest House