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Making The Shift

I believe the church and family are at a crossroads. Things are shifting around us rapidly, and the test for many leaders will be in how quickly and completely they are willing to make a change.

I have loved photography all my life. I picked it up in ninth grade when I was invited by my football coach to become the team photographer. I guess my football skills were so exceptional it intimidated the other players, so he asked me if I wanted to shoot the games instead.

I’ve been obsessed over the years with the shift the medium has made from film to digital. The first digital camera was made by Kodak and released in 1991. It weighed eight pounds and cost $13,000. Nikon, however, was the first company to make a digital SLR, a single-lens reflex camera, and it was released in 1999. The SLR allows a photographer to use interchangeable lenses on the same camera, and it helped Nikon strategically dominate the market of professional film photographers. They designed a camera body that could be used with all their existing lenses so those photographers wouldn’t have to purchase new lenses. It made sense, but it meant Nikon needed to use a smaller computer chip to capture images.

Canon took a different approach. Canon completely reinvented the digital SLR camera, releasing the EOS D30 in 2003. It required all new lenses, but it had a larger chip and better technology. Can you guess what Nikon customers did? They dumped their Nikon gear and jumped to Canon, making Canon the new leader among professional photographers.

By 2003, Kodak was struggling technologically and financially, even though they had been the first to introduce a digital camera. They severely miscalculated how fast the shift to digital would happen—Kodak executives had estimated the shift from film to digital would take about eight years. In 2005, digital cameras outsold film cameras for the first time. Kodak missed the estimate by six years and almost completely lost the company.

The problem with Kodak was speed.
They just didn’t make the shifts they needed to make fast enough.
So they lost the potential to reach a number of customers.

The mistake Nikon made was a lack of commitment.
They made only a partial shift; they went only halfway.
In an attempt to keep their customers happy, they gave their customers what they wanted. They were afraid too much change might alienate loyal Nikon users. Instead, they lost some of their most faithful fans. (Just for the record, I am an avid Nikon user. They have effectively reinvented themselves of the past several years.)

Canon was right on target.
They took a risk and made the change.
They didn’t try to put old lenses onto new cameras because their priority was quality, not convenience. They were focused on the future. They were not preoccupied by the customers they were trying to keep, but instead took a risk so they could ultimately reach new customers. They didn’t react to change; they led change.

Has it ever occurred to you that the very parents in your church who complain about the changes you make may also blame you one day if you lose influence with their kids? Many of them would jump at the chance to go somewhere else if it might potentially increase their ability to influence their own children. Leadership doesn’t mean giving parents what you think they want; it is giving them what you as a leader know they need.

Thinking Orange is a call for churches to make a shift for the sake of a generation.

A shift that integrates strategy.
A shift that synchronizes your message.
A shift that reactivates the family.
A shift that elevates community.
A shift that leverages the influence of the next generation and mobilizes them to be the Church.

If you really believe two combined influences will make a greater impact than just two influences, then maybe it’s time to make the shift.

To read more about how to integrate strategy in your ministry,
check out Think Orange by Reggie Joiner.

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