The pandemic is teaching us that survival depends on reinvention. One of my favorite reinvention stories (a pre-Pandemic story) is the tale of a mom-and-pop grocery store located a few blocks from my home. A decade ago, this family-owned business nearly closed its doors. Fortunately, an imaginative young couple purchased this aging establishment. Today it is a thriving business serving the neighborhood. This young couple’s creativity can serve as a guide for congregations seeking to reinvent themselves in a rapidly changing world.
Here are Six Important Reinvention Decisions
Decision 1: Rebrand to Reconnect
The new owners renamed the store “Central Park Market” to identify with the local community. As part of this rebranding the store began selling locally grown produce. Small churches must do everything they can to identify with the place where they are located.
Decision 2: Focus On Customer Service
The local grocer understood that customer service would be key to the future. They now greet regular customers by name, deliver groceries, and place special orders. Additionally, they chose to expand hours of operation and began stocking alcoholic beverages. Churches, too, must excel in warm hospitality and find fresh ways to serve near-neighbors.
Decision 3: Double Down On Core Business
For years the local grocer was known for high quality meat cut by an in-house butcher. The reinvented store doubled down on this core business. Smaller churches also need to double down on their core business of Gospel-telling and disciple-making.
Decision 4: Find A Unique Place In The Community
Central Park Market noted their unique place on South Shore Drive where cottagers drive past every day. To accommodate this vacationing clientele, they added bike racks and picnic tables along with a small coffee shop. Additionally, they stock suntan lotion, small bundles of firewood and bait. Churches, too, should identify overlooked outreach opportunities that already exist in their neighborhoods.
Decision 5: Refuse To Compete
The young store owners knew they couldn’t compete with big box grocers and decided not to try. Central Park Market provides a unique place where customers purchase a few items at a time. That uniqueness has been more than enough to help them thrive. Similarly, churches should embrace who they are and invest in where live.
Decision 6: Embrace Joy
Ten years ago, Central Park Grocer was a depressing place to visit. It was dusty and thread-bare. Today Central Park Market is a fun place to enter. There is a tangible sense of hope and optimism born out of a fresh reason to live. Churches, too, should choose joy. Large or small, Christ loves his church and uses her to transform lives and communities for him.