On my day out with Evelyn I finally read "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More" by Chris Anderson. Without going into a whole review of the book – which was overall pretty good – the thing that I fond most interesting is that I think we – Mission Bay Community Church – have been participating in this Long Tail effect without even knowing that is what we are doing. In fact, I think that the Emergent church movement is all about the Long Tail effect, creating niche church experiences for discerning people. There will always be the super-mega-churches, but for the first time the smaller intentional communities are getting some "play." Of course Anderson is coming from a purely economic perspective (focusing on "hit" movies and music), but I found the leap easy to church culture and easy one to make. Just one quote . . .
There’s still demand for big cultural buckets, but they’re no longer the only market. The hits now compete with and infinite number of niche markets, of any size. And consumers are increasingly favoring the one with the most choice. The era of one-size-fits-all is ending, and in it’s place is something new, a market of multitudes. – pg 5
And even more interesting . . .
This shattering of the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards is something that upsets traditional media and entertainment to no end. After decades of executives refining their skills in creating, picking and promoting hits, those are suddenly not enough. The audience is shifting to something else, a muddy and indistinct proliferation of . . . Well, we don’t have a good term for such non-hits. They are certainly not "misses," because most weren’t aimed at world domination in the first place. They’re "everything else." – pg 5
So what I got out of it . . . basically there will always be the mega-churches focused on numerical success and influence, but the future is really in the smaller communities that up until now were seen as not "successful" but can now, if healthy, will have a huge impact in the overall church culture.
Here are a couple more quick links worth looking at: