Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

New Thinking about “Seekers”

I spoke at a conference in Phoenix this past week.  About 150 pastors and church leaders gathered for a “Missional Leadership Academy”.  I received this question after the conference and thought I’dpic_ford1 share my response.  But I’d love to know how you would respond to this question as well.  (I’ve edited out information that should probably be confidential). 

 Hi Kevin. It was great to meet you yesterday. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your presentations and workshops. You helped me clarify some things about where we are as a community. Your distinction between DNA and culture was especially helpful and will shape the way I approach my position here at my church.

 I have one question for you. I was never a part of the big “seeker church” like the rest of our crew here at my church, so my background is a little different. One of the tensions I struggle with is how we meet the “felt needs” of our community without falling prey to the consumerism that haunts the American Church? In a sense we’re changing from a more consumer driven seeker approach to a new expression of our DNA that strives to be open and accessible to the unchurched, but also transforms our people to be disciples who can get back out and do mission. We’re trying to make this a both/and kind of thing, drawing on the best of the seeker model while creating a culture of discipleship. This is the area of our ministry that I’m focusing on, and any thoughts you might have would be most helpful.

 Here was how I responded:

As a starting point for your thinking about these issues, I would suggest that you read The Millennium Matrix by Rex Miller (you can order through our website).  The shift from the broadcast era to the digital era is changing the rules for how people view organizations in general.  In the context of that book, think of co-creation as the antidote to consumerism while also attracting seekers.  Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

 “Co-creation is the practice of product or service development that is collaboratively executed by developers and stakeholders together. Isaac Newton said that in his great work, he stood on the shoulders of giants. Co-creation could be seen as creating great work by standing together with those for whom the project is intended.

 Among those who have helped popularise the term are management writers C K Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, who argue in their book The Future of Competition (2004, Harvard Business School Press) that value is increasingly being co-created by the firm and the customer, rather than being created entirely inside the firm. The introduction of Enterprise social software may function as an enabler of this change in how companies evolve to business networks. And how both large and small companies cooperate.

 Co-creation is at the heart of the open source software movement, where users have full access to the source code and are empowered to make their own changes and improvements to it.

 Co-creation is becoming more evident in marketing, where companies such as Lego have successfully engaged many of their adult customers in designing new products, or Converse, which persuaded large numbers of its most passionate customers to create their own video advertisements for the product.

 Co-creation is also used to describe the process by which actors in improvisational theatre create scenes with each other where there is no script, but only a simple structure within which to work.”

 I think the problem is that we somehow view seekers and consumers as the same thing when, in fact, consumerism is as epidemic among Christians as it is among others.  We somehow think that we have to start with something they can consumer when, in reality, even seekers are looking for community and to participate in something creative and life-giving.  I think the church of the future will capitalize on co-creation.  Anyway, this would be fun to work through with you onsite at some point.  Take care.

 So, reader, what are your thoughts or musings about this important question?


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