What Would Google Do?
That’s the answer some are giving to Jeff Jarvis’s tongue-in-cheek question. We’ve already kicked a couple of the book’s tires here and here, but now I want to take a step back and ask if churches should even care what the Google-mobile is doing.
“Hear, hear,” says Jarvis. “Know what business you’re really in,” he writes more than once in WWGD? The church ain’t a business, but the point stands. If churches spend themselves trying to “be distributed” or “be a platform” without a clear sense of mission and purpose, then only cosmetic changes will likely result.
The purpose of the church is too heavy a load for this post to carry (you could do a lot worse than this as a starting point, though), but I don’t agree that churches can’t make any use of Jarvis’s query.
Churches model themselves after other forms of organization. They always have and they always will. The earliest Christian congregations were modeled after synagogues of the day. Most churches in North America today are reflections either of mid-20th century civic organizations or late 20th century business and and self-help and leadership movements. These models affect everything. Worship, education, polity, dress, outreach, marketing: everything churches do reflects models borrowed from other sectors of society.
“What would Google do?” is a useful question for churches to grapple with, for sure. Google (and Facebook and Flickr and Salesforce and Zillow and on and on) is revealing–and shaping–patterns of social organization that churches are foolish to ignore.
Churches are already operating on an answer to a different question, whether it’s “What would Rotary do?” or “What would Tony Robbins do?” What would Google do? isn’t just defensible for churches to ask; it may be essential.