Feb 21, 2011
What the Church Should Learn from Blockbuster's Demise
I was recently in a comic book store with some teens from my youth group, when I found an audio cassette tape from Return of the Jedi. I announced my find. One of the girls said "Whats that?" I responded, "You have never heard of Return of the Jedi?" But to my shock she was talking about the cassette tape. When did I get so old?
We will soon be able to add video rental stores to the list of things we know about that make us sound old. If Movie Gallery liquidating its assets wasn't enough, Blockbuster is also calling it quits. Ouch! I remember how cool they used to be. You could find anything there. They even outlasted the great switch from VHS to DVD, while smaller chains went under while trying to resist.
The digital revolution, however, has dealt Blockbuster a knockout blow. Netflix and Redbox have all but put a stamp of irrelevance on the former movie giant's forehead. Their jump to on demand viewing and express kiosks came too little too late. You will still see their name on the Blockbuster Express kiosks since their partner, NCR, has unlimited rights to use the name of the soon to be nonexistent company.
This trend is oddly reminiscent of the church. I sometimes feel old when I see a church that once was vibrant and alive dwindling away into obscurity. But a church is not dead when it closes its doors forever. No, it happens long before that.
It starts when we become irrelevant to the culture of a generation that needs Christ just as bad as the last one did. The mindset that killed Blockbuster is one embraced by many churches. "It worked once, then it may work again" becomes the mantra of a church on its way out. We need to constantly evaluate what we are doing and how we present the gospel to the world. We would study a foreign culture before going to the mission field (as Paul did in Athens); it is time we studied ours.
Is Blockbuster's fall tragic, or is it positive? After all, we can still rent movies (easier in fact). The barriers are being removed. In the same way, the closing of outdated (often legalistic) churches remove barriers that prevent this generation from even darkening the door. Our God is still being praised, and that will never change.
It's time to decide if we will remain relevant and make the necessary changes--even if they are uncomfortable--to affect this culture for Him.