I remember my aunt’s Kodak box camera that required her to look in the top at just the right angle or she would decapitate the heads off her subjects in the image. She kept her brownie box camera long after others had moved on to other cameras that used colour film. Photos were precious in her time – and expensive and time-consuming to make. Making up her photo album required my aunt to mail the whole camera away to have the film extracted and developed and then sent back. Kodak obliged.
This past weekend, my young granddaughter used my phone camera to produce a video of her little cousins sliding down the curved stairs at my uncle’s house. The same day I posted it on Facebook and friends across the country commented on it.
This article from Holy Soup by Thom Schulz on “The Church’s Frightful Kodak Moment” fits with what I am sensing. Photography has taken off in the last few years. More people have better access (even on phones) and quality has improved enormously. It’s not left just to the professionals anymore. There is freedom to make mistakes and forgive ourselves by hitting delete or re-framing and re-lighting the experience with a photo editing program. It’s about seeing worth in the moment and making meaningful images we can enjoy and share in the future.
But Kodak missed it because it saw only one expression of photography. Nothing wrong with print. I still use Kodak paper but 99% of what I do is digital photography and artistic expressions using those photos on the computer now.
I feel something like this is happening to the church – something out-of-the-box is about to take off, improve in quality, be more accessible, offer greater grace to grow, and thrive in ways we never imagined, but we can miss it if we measure success in terms of sales of traditional product (aka bums in seats on Sunday morning.) I am meeting more and more people who love the Lord deeply but who are finding the current structures and expectations of the institutional denominational church-in-the-building are limiting their ability to pursue the desires God has placed in their hearts to know Christ, and to know who He created them to be, and to be placed in true family. There is more. I know it.
It’s about worshiping God, enjoying Him forever, making disciples – and loving one another.
I have not read the author’s books, nor have I seen his documentary (although I will probably be checking them out). We may disagree on what this out-of-the-box thing looks like. I don’t know. My attention was just grabbed by the comparison to Kodak and rather than feeling despair that church attendance is falling in North America, I am filled with hope that soon all the promises in Christ will become more accessible to the ordinary folks He loves – and they will know they are the church.