Compact Discs and the Church

Last week as I was traveling in Hollywood, I stared at the WEA Records (Warner/Electra/Atlantic) building and the legendary Capitol Records building. They were once powerful, dominant entertainment companies when a musician needed a recording studio (I can record a song on my iPhone!), a distribution network (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites), and a CD manufacturer (digital files require no discs or packaging). Music is as vital and valuable as ever, but its distribution is in the midst of epic change. In other words, record companies must reinvent themselves or they risk becoming the next Borders. They need to read the classic book "Who Moved My Cheese?"

I sense that the Church is in a similar situation. Jesus and the Word are as vital and valuable as ever, but its distribution is in the midst of epic change. Just as few people rush out to buy CDs (some do, but their numbers are declining) in favor of downloads, so few people rush out to find a church to attend in favor of an array of options (house churches, personal meditation, alternative religions, non-Christian spirituality, etc.). I am hardly the first voice to state that many are searching for God, but the last place they often consider is a church.

The answer is not in making our churches hipper or cooler any more than remodeling the fixtures in the shrinking CD section at Target or Best Buy will be a remedy. Perhaps something will prompt more people to pursue God at a Sunday morning worship gathering, but I suspect that is as likely as watching the sales of compact discs grow. We have to do more than change the packaging. We need to change the entire distribution process—but never the Product, of course. It frustrates me that our USAmerican culture is screaming for help, yet we seem so poorly positioned to connect them with the only One who can provide the hope, peace, love, joy, relationships, and purpose that they are so desperate to find. 

Thanks to all of you who are challenging the status quo and taking the risk of pioneering a different way to re-present Jesus to the world. Don't EVER close your R&D lab! The future of humankind lies in the balance. Literally.