Church, online or off, is about the middle
I’m a fan of Seth Godin’s pithy wisdom along with thousands of other people.
I like him most when he pops bubbles, as he did with this comment over the weekend on The Paradox of the Middle of the Market.
The middle of the market is a paradox because of the inherent contradiction between the ease of reaching the nerds and the geeks and the need to reach the middle.
The solution, if there is one, is to enter a market to the enthusiastic cheers of those in search of the new, but to build a product/service that appeals to those in the middle. After the initial wave of enthusiasm, you hunker down and ignore those that first embraced you, obsessing instead on the needs and networks of the middle. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it’s the only one that works.
Ultimately, you end up disappointing the hard core that first found you, but because of their initial enthusiasm (and more important, because you designed your work for the masses in the first place), your product crosses the chasm and reaches a larger group. The formula starts with a service or product that’s purple enough to spread, but not so hyper-fashionable that it merely entertains the insiders.
Over the first several months of the NewSpring Web Church experiment, there’s one common denominator I’ve observed:
Almost all the people who are committed attenders, volunteers and those who depend on the Web Campus as their only form of church aren’t techno geeks.
Most are ordinary people who “need a job done.”
Most are, in a lot of ways, old school.
They’re not into pioneering a new form of church. Or rebelling from traditional church.
They’re just craving the word of God preached passionately, and they’re wanting to live out their faith in whatever environment helps them do that best, and according to the personal situation they are in.
That’s why our team works hard to resist adding layers of bells and whistles to the NewSpring Web Campus.
And why I personally think about my mother-in-law before I even make any suggestions about changes. (She is a new believer in south Louisiana who never thought about using twitter or Facebook or chatrooms until it became vital to living in Christian community on the Web Campus.)
How simple is too simple? How techie is too techie?
And how do we know when we’ve struck the right balance?