• Ben Disney

Netflix and a World of Needs

Central Texas Conference WIG (Wildly Important Goal)

1. Increase conference market share (worship attendance divided by population) from 1.1% in 2016 to 1.25% by 2026

2. Increase professions of faith from 1,900 to 3,500 per year by 2026

Remember Blockbuster? If you do, chances are you remember paying more in late return fees than the original cost of the video. For years, Blockbuster dominated the video rental market. If you wanted to rent a video and take it home for a couple of days, Blockbuster was the place to go.

Until 1997.

A small upstart company named Netflix entered the picture in 1997. It was so insignificant that few people understood the business model or took it seriously. In fact, Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix but decided to pass on it. Seriously, who would wait a week for DVDs to arrive in the mail? Whoever heard of live streaming? To their demise, Blockbuster didn’t anticipate where the future of home entertainment was going.

Today, Netflix is worth billions. Blockbuster is bankrupt.

Occasionally, an organization does something extraordinary--it disrupts the market. It taps into the unmet needs and frustrations of people who are ready for a change, those searching for something better.

When it does, the world changes.

The early Christian church was first and foremost a major disruptor. It disrupted the status quo of religion and the way it was previously constructed. It had few resources, almost no assets, and only a relatively small band of followers.

But it had a Savior and a clear mission to transform the world.

Look at the disruptive force of the Gospel: “neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free but all are one in Christ Jesus”.

Grace over and against the oppression of the Law: “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

Jesus disrupted the way people lived and thought: “You’ve heard it said before, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth but I say to you…”

The early church understood and tapped into the deepest frustrations and longings of those who were ready for a change and people looking for something better.

In all our conversations about growing the church and reaching others for Jesus, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we need to work harder and put in more hours to achieve a better result. Lord knows, so many of you are already working hard and putting in more hours than anyone knows.

So, what if we started by really knowing and understanding the frustrations and unmet needs of those who are looking to the church for something different and better? What if they’re tired of shallow religion that fails to challenge or inspire them in any meaningful way? What if people are tired of religion that no longer seems relevant to the world they’re living in? Or a religion that fails to connect with both their heads and hearts? What if people are just tired of a religion that judges constantly and harshly, offers little grace and even less hope? What if people are turning away from the church not because it asks too much from them, but because it demands so little of them?

That’s where Jesus started.

It’s what he’s still doing.

Tap into that; chances are the world changes.

When you’re planning ways to help grow your congregation grow, maybe the goal isn’t to change the world.

Maybe the real goal is to disrupt the church.