Blue Ocean Faith

Businesses that keep using the same methods for success that everyone else has used for a long time are fishing in red oceans – where the market space is too crowded, the lines get tangled, and the competition turns the water bloody.

However, there is a new type of business that seeks to create what some have called a "blue ocean." Curves, Southwest Airlines and Cirque du Soleil all saw the wisdom in reframing an all-too-familiar message. Their businesses are thriving because they are no longer thinking or using language in the same ways as the rest of the people in their industry. They are fishing in blue oceans. And they are finding success.

This might remedy some of Christianity's modern day irrelevance – reinvent itself as a blue ocean faith.

Mike Metzger is the President and Senior Fellow of The Clapham Institute (whose mission is to help people and organizations advance faith-centered cultural reform). He was the speaker at the CCO’s last Staff Seminar, and he introduced the concept of a “Blue Ocean Faith.” As I listened to him and interacted with him, I thought, “This is a great way to think of reform in the church!”

Here's an excerpt from his recent Clapham Commentary:

Several years ago Harvard Business School professor Laura Nash surveyed eighty-five CEOs who identified themselves as evangelicals. She applauded their emphasis "on self-discipline, hard work, thrift, and delayed gratification." But Nash was surprised to discover evangelicals were as unschooled as the general public about how Sunday connects to Monday – if it does at all. Welcome to the red ocean. It's a continuous film loop of sermon series covering worship, family, fellowship and evangelism. As one friend puts it, high predictability, low impact. Or, as Dallas Willard says, our system is perfectly designed to yield the result we are getting.

Albert Einstein said we could never solve a problem in the framework in which it was created. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Talking about Jesus, church and faith in the same old way and expecting things to get better is a red ocean faith. The "brutal reality" – as Jim Collins puts it – is that American church growth has stagnated. The fastest growing churches do so largely by transfer growth (people leaving one church to join another) rather than new folks coming to faith. We're fishing in the same small red ocean.

Curves, Southwest Airlines and Cirque du Soleil all saw the wisdom in reframing an all-too-familiar message. How about Christianity? In the blue ocean, we reframe the historic gospel in language that connects Sunday to Monday.

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Ted Gossard said...

This reminds me of John Wesley whose open field preaching (not in a church!) in the 1700's was deemed completely unworthy by the Anglican church at that time. Yet what he was doing was certainly blue ocean faith.

We need some fresh vision that stays as true to God's revelation in Christ as he did. And I think it is occurring with some fellowships.

But even some very good churches, I'm afraid, are in waters that at least have plenty of red in them.

Bob Robinson said...

Why am I so attracted to the emerging church? Because it is taking seriously the goal of reaching postmoderns in a way that will indeed reach them!
No more red oceans.

Bring on the blue oceans, baby!