8 Lessons from Netflix
Greg Atkinson | August 18, 2013
A couple of months ago, we canceled our DISH Network subscription and are now just paying $8 a month to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix. I know of several friends that have done the same thing and are just using services like Netflix and HuluPlus and canceling subscriptions to cable and satellite. I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from the company of Netflix and two shows that I watch on Netflix (Fringe and The Walking Dead).
Lesson 1: Adapt or die. I have a whole chapter about this in my upcoming book. Companies like Blockbuster didn’t adapt, and they got passed by new a new up-and-comer like Netflix that did things differently and more efficiently. Blockbuster's process and policies were old, out-dated, and frustrating to their customers. Netflix tried the Blue Ocean Strategy and decided to do video rental in a whole different way.
Lesson 2: Just because you used to be successful does not guarantee future success. Blockbuster used to be a giant in their field. They were booming and successful. Now they’ve filed for bankruptcy. What happened? Maybe they got cocky. Maybe they got lazy. Maybe they lost their focus and stopped casting vision. Maybe they didn’t adapt and change to the digital world around them. Maybe all of the above? I can’t tell you how many churches I know that boast of their glory days in the 60′s, 70′s or 80′s. Days when they used to have to bring extra chairs in. Now those old pews sit empty on Sunday and the congregation is small and declining. What happened? Maybe… you know the drill. See above.
Lesson 3: Content is king. Why was it so easy for me to give up the hundreds of channels on my DISH Network? I would venture to say that I knew I could still get good content from Netflix and HuluPlus and that my entertainment time wouldn’t suffer. I knew Netflix was packed full of great content and I could still scratch my action, comedy, and Sci-fi itches through their service. Why is this important to us? You can hype and market your church all you want, but at the end of the day, you got to show the goods. You must create compelling experiences for people to encounter the Living God. As a blogger, I know that content is king. If I have nothing to say, I lose my voice. If your pastor or teaching pastor doesn’t effectively communicate God’s Word to both the Christian and the non-Christian, you’ll have people leave and go somewhere where they can experience the life-changing truth of the gospel in fresh and creative ways. To quote my friend, Mark Batterson: “If people love a book (or church or service or company) they will tell their friends about it. There is no substitute or shortcut that can compensate for life-changing content.”
Lesson 4: There is an unseen world. This is a lesson that is reinforced in the TV show Fringe that I watch on Netflix. We are to be constantly reminded that what we see is not all there is. We live in a natural world, but there is a supernatural world, and all around us are angels and demons and things that we cannot see. We serve a God that rose from the dead, and this makes Christianity a supernatural faith - when you can’t see His hand, trust His heart. God is always at work, behind the scenes – working things together for our good.
Lesson 5: Some things cannot be explained. I’m also reminded of this in the show Fringe. So many times in life, in medicine, in ministry, things happen that cannot be explained. Lives are changed from the inside out, someone gets healed, someone doesn’t get healed (despite much prayer), miracles take place. Often times God moves in mysterious ways and we don’t understand Him, His ways, His plans, or His timing.
Lesson 6: You must have faith. This is a spiritual theme that runs through most shows on TV, including Fringe. When you don’t understand, when your mind is blown, in good and times and bad – you must have faith. Faith is something that endures through trials and valleys. It is battle-tested. It’s not enough to have faith when everything is going your way, you must have faith when you’re hurting, confused, and scared. Always hope. Always trust. Always believe.
Lesson 7: The war rages on. In my ebook Church Leadership 101, I have a chapter that reminds us: “You have an enemy.” We must never forget that in this unseen world (all around us), there is a war that rages on between good and evil. You have an enemy that wants to take you down, take you out, and if he could – kill you. You must put on your spiritual armor and fight the good fight of faith. Never let your guard down. The enemy is waiting to prowl on you.
Lesson 8: I see dead people. One of my new favorite shows is The Walking Dead. I love the title because all around us are people that are spiritually dead walking around. One of the powerful truths that I must constantly be reminded of is that we don’t save anyone. Only God saves. Only God redeems. Only God restores. Regeneration is a beautiful thing. God has the power to open blind eyes and awaken a dead heart, changing someone from the inside out. Place your hope and trust in the saving work of God, the finished work of the cross, and the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.