Futurist, Dr Bob Goldman describes the demise of Kodak like this ….
In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years.”
The demise of Kodak when you think about it happened because its leadership kept carrying out its mission in the ways that had been successful in the past and realised too late that digital photography was going to take over the Market and their film and photographic paper was appealing to an ever shrinking section of the population, those really serious photographers who wanted the look it created and those older people who didn’t want the new fangled digital stuff and would stick to the their box brownie.
I remember at least 10 years ago Alan Hirsch passionately warning church leaders, as he still does, that they were making the same mistake as the directors of Kodak. What I mean by that is they were persevering with a form of mission which whilst it had been successful in the past was destined to appeal to an ever shrinking section of the population. Here’s how i think the Kodak catastrophe is being played out in the church in the West right now.
Basically, the church in “Christendom mode,” the church that had operated in a culture which had some sort of Christian “home field advantage” carried out its mission predominately by reaching out to the so called “fringe” around the congregation. As a newly minted pastor in the 1990s I followed my training and the advice I got from Church Growth books of the time and made my prime focus in mission those who came for my church for “hatches, matches and despatches.” People who approached us for religious “services” and so were at least open to coming to church. Around the turn of the century I attended a Purpose Driven Church conference in sunny California and was urged by Rick Warren to focus my efforts in evangelism on moving people from the CROWD (the fringe) into the CONGREGATION. That strategy worked in the US and to an extent in the UK, the problem is that it’s success was like the corporate success in 1998 for the KODAK corporation, it hid the upcoming technological tsunami that would all but wipe out Kodaks business model.
My call and the call of many other missional thinkers and practitioners was not for a new way of doing church or a new technique for church growth. I thought I was calling the church to a revolution, to a whole new way of thinking and seeing and being followers of Jesus today. I now find myself in a place where I fear those robust and excited calls for a radical transformation of our ecclesiology have largely fallen on deaf ears” p16