Muppet has raised an interesting question, particularly for those of us who include a blogging community and teaching available over the internet as part of our Christian lives.
“But instead sold a product that is most advantageous to the advisor” [-RP, earlier, commenting on moral hazard]
This has been the basis of business for the last few decades. We package a product, and market it, convincing the consumer of their need for it.
The game is now changed. Consumers are more educated and aware. They have access to a wide range of information. It’s no good coming up with a product like Coco Pops and spending loads of money to convince me that it is what I need. I want a particular blend of oats and fruit that is particular to my dietry needs. I have the ability now to access exactly what I need. It’s irrelevent how clever the TV advert for Coco Pops is – I wont buy them.
Marketing Jesus and selling the Gospel as a product will become less effective. What do we do now? How do we recognise what God is doing in an individuals life, and how do we help them move towards Him even if we can’t relate to their individual experience of Him?
Megachurches (and others) have been set up in recent decades along a corporate business model, with modern marketing methods. Even to the point of replacing elders with board members. They market the Gospel as their product, and we become the sales agents, in some churches even to the point of being encouraged to conform to an image that is attractive to non-members. Seeker sensitive methods drive marketing appeal.
Will these methods become less effective as consumers are faced with infinite information and choice over the internet? Some churches have moved their model to the internet, encouraging those who regard them as their home church, to tithe to them. Can churches still convince people that they have what people need, distinct from other churches, when as Muppet says, the consumer can now go out and find exactly the teaching that caters to their need?
We’ve all probably heard church pastors warning people of the dangers of blogging! Are they perceiving this potential for shift?
Does the consumer risk just satisfying their desire for whatever agrees with their viewpoint – it will be somewhere on the internet? Or does the megachurch preacher face the dilemma of aware consumers, who know that there is a world outside the limits of the menu on offer in the building, and can disagree and be educated beyond the boundaries of what is preached on a Sunday? Has the corporate model for the megachurch with all its hierarchies been effectively superseded by the flatness and spread of the internet – and if so, what is emerging in its place?