Bit Market

Below is a useful case study given to me a few years ago by a fellow ministry partner, Greg TeSelle (uncertain if Greg is original source or not). As a church planter and ministry innovator, Greg taught me more in nine months than many people have taught me in nine years. The following is a good reflection of his healthy, provocative spirit:

In management circles the story is often told of the CEO who took over a 100-year-old company manufacturing drill bits, which was floundering for a decade. The vice president for marketing, wanting to impress the new chief, brought to their first meeting elaborate color charts illustrating the “bit market”- detailing the total market for bits, the company’s market share to date, and potential for increasing market share of the “bit market”.

When the laborious presentation finally ended, all eyes turned to the new CEO who changed the mind set of the company with one dismissive comment: “Sorry, there is no market for bits… the market is for holes.” Pausing for a few moments for the thought to sink in, the CEO then stood to his feet and dismissed the meeting.

As a result of that single meeting, and the dramatic way the new CEO introduced a new style of thinking, from then on the company would look for “ways to make holes” not for how to better manufacture drill bits. The customer needs drill bits only so long as bits are the best way to make holes. The moment a laser device arrives which makes a hole better, cleaner, safer and cheaper, drill bits will go the way of the horse and carriage. It is focusing on the ends and not the means.

“The market is for holes” applies to churches too (which sometimes think like 100-year-old companies). Face it, there’s absolutely no “market” for Sunday school, morning services, Sunday night carry-in dinners, Tuesday evening calling programs, or Habitat for Humanity. The market is for holes: discipleship, worship, fellowship, evangelism, and service. As soon as something makes a better “hole” than Sunday school, we should unleash it to accomplish discipleship. When someone invents a better way to have collective worship, we can dump Sunday morning services. Same with fellowship, evangelism, and service.

But what is instructive about this model is how it causes us to ask of everything we do, “What is the hole?” And, “Is there a better way to make it?” “Bit market” calls us to examine everything we do, to state it’s purpose, and to ask if there is a better way to do it.

So what about “pastoral calling?” Church offices? Church bulletins? Mid-week mailers? Sunday night services? Pulpits? Overhead screens in worship? Pioneer clubs? Praise bands? Youth groups? Youth conventions? Choirs? Camps and retreats? Altar calls? And a hundred other “bits” of the church?

So what do you thinks? What “bits” are we still trying to sell where there are better ways to make the holes?


~ by Dave Smith on February 19, 2009.

2 Responses to “Bit Market”

  1. thanks for this dave. really good thoughts & helpful.

  2. methods vs. outcomes

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