“Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move gives the company time to reorganise itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said that it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras to refocus on making printers to stem falling profits. The 133-year-old firm has struggled to keep up with competitors who were quicker to adapt to the digital era.”
So, Kodak joins a long line of companies and other organisations that have been overtaken by changed circumstances. As the report above notes, others were quicker to adapt to the digital era and so Kodak, previously so dominant in its field, has fallen way behind. We live in the digital age. This letter was written using a computer, emailed to the magazine editors who then dropped it into the appropriate electronic space in the publication. It was then either re-emailed or delivered on a computer memory stick to the printer, who then sent the digital command to print the paper version that you are now reading, unless of course you are looking at one of the online versions available on Church websites.
Similar pressures have affected other businesses. Bookshops, including Christian bookshops such as the one in Chelmsford, have been closing as customers (me included) have been ordering online rather than going to the shop. Likewise, HMV struggles on in the high street but many of its former customers now prefer to pick up their music or movie from Tesco or Amazon. Churches may have been closing in this country throughout the twentieth century but not at as quickly as the rate at which pubs have been closing, and the majority of pubs that are still going have reinvented themselves as restaurants, where it so happens you can also go for a drink. Similarly these days, you are as likely to go to Waterstones to drink a cappuccino as you are to purchase a book.
Kodak, you could argue, thought it was in the film business when in fact it was in the image business and when photographic film was no longer the way to create images then it should have moved on. What business, then, in changed times do you think Churches are in as we proceed further into 2012? One hundred and thirty three years ago, when Kodak was founded, congregations were flourishing in this country, evidenced by the great number of large, new Church buildings being erected. They were centres of worship, education and entertainment; of social service and socialising. Today, elements of all of these remain in the lives of many of our Churches, but many of these functions have taken over and are often better done and done better by other groups – schools and hospitals for example, not forgetting the revamped pubs.
I would argue there is still a place for many of these things in the life of our Churches, as long as we stay focused on our ‘core business’, which is relating to God through finding and following Jesus. That’s what drives the Fresh Expressions movement, attempts to ‘do Church’ in different, non-traditional ways in a fast-changing world. Worship and service, fun and fellowship and learning, located in a substantial Church building however, still have a valid role in the twenty-first century as a way of following Jesus together. We need to be ready however, to develop our life in ways that best enable us and others to find and follow Jesus, which is the business we are still in today.
For information on Fresh Expressions…