Dr. James Emery White

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

The Church Shave Club

Every guy gets the commercials.

A man goes into a store to buy some razor blades. They’re locked up. He tries to get in, but it’s like robbing Fort Knox. No one is around to help. He tries harder, which sets off alarms that lead to him being assaulted by the staff.

Blow darts, punches to the stomach. That kind of thing.

Then the tag line:

“It’s like they don’t want you to buy razor blades.”

And it’s true. That’s what it feels like. 

So when someone came along and offered a different way to buy razor blades, and advertised as much, it struck a chord.    

According to the Wall Street Journal, web sales of razor blades through such companies as Dollar Shave Club, have doubled in the last twelve months alone. They’ve gone from no slice of the market to nearly ten percent, with little sign of slowing down. Through the first six months of 2015, sales have already doubled over all of last year’s totals.

So how did a company like Dollar Shave Club, which didn’t even exist three years ago, storm onto the scene and take such a big bite out of a company like Gillette that has been in existence since 1901?

That’s easy.

Gillette and its distributors looked at things from the inside – from their perspective – not the consumer’s. Looking at things from Gillette’s perspective (and certainly the store’s), locking up blades in the store makes sense. They were a semi-expensive product, and putting it behind a locked case deterred shoplifters. 

But in so doing, they made the experience of buying blades negative for shoppers. So when someone came along and thought like a buyer, not a seller, they got a lot of buyers flocking to their side. You can only imagine the Dollar Shave Club people thinking, “Okay, people hate the way razors are sold, but stores don’t want them stolen … let’s just rethink how to get them in people’s hands!”

And they did.

Too many churches look at things from the inside. They think about what is easiest for them, best for them or makes sense for them. They don’t think about someone coming in from the outside; what is easiest, best and makes sense for others. 

And even if they do, they seldom think creatively about entirely new processes that would create a win-win (e.g., make it easy to buy a blade and hard to shoplift). Or even less likely is when they take on inconvenience and hassle for the sake of a better experience for the guest.

This isn’t about rethinking doctrine. It’s about rethinking experience. It’s about procedures, practices. It’s about what it takes to gain access to something, or just explore something.

So where do you need to think like Dollar Shave Club?

Where are you making the experience of coming to church, much less exploring the Christian faith, hard – even negative – because you’ve instituted a set of practices and procedures, expectations and barriers, loopholes and thresholds, that address your concerns,

… but not their experience?

Here are some areas to consider:

*access to, and then navigating, your website

*children’s ministry check-in

*registration for programs/events

*parking

*seating

*access to helpful resources, such as messages

The list could go on, but you get the point. At Meck, we’ve been ruthless in evaluating this of late, and we still have a long way to go. Some things take new technology. But with every step we’ve taken, the results have been phenomenal.

For example, think about listening to a message. It used to be the only way to do this would be to actually attend a service. Or, if you missed the service, purchasing a CD of the talk at a later date. But what if you offered every service through an internet campus? What if you placed recent messages on an app for iPhones and other mobile devices? 

This is far from limited to messages. It can involve adapting certain classes and learning opportunities to an online experience, opening them up for countless people with busy or erratic schedules. It can mean going multi-site in terms of your physical location, adding service times and days, or even creating an internet campus.

All for one reason: making it easier for people who want razor blades to get them.

To Gillette’s credit, there is now the “Gillette Shave Club.” But let’s be candid. It’s only because of the success of the Dollar Shave Club. As churches, we can’t wait to be prompted like that. 

Because what we’re offering is a lot more important than personal grooming.

James Emery White

 

Sources

“Razor Sales Move Online, Away from Gillette,” Serena Na & Paul Ziobro, Wall Street Journal, read online.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

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