Amazon’s net sales for 2016 total $136 billion. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s billion with a “b.” A majority of their sales are generated through e-retail sales of electronics and other products. They have more than 310 million active customer accounts worldwide.
My wife and I were walking through Opry Mills Mall in Nashville recently, and we found ourselves saying the same thing multiple times while we were there. We’d see something we liked, then say, “I wonder what that’d cost on Amazon.” Then, we’d look it up on our phones.
The way we go shopping has changed. No longer do we walk through a store, buy stuff, then walk out without thinking of other options. Now, we do serious analysis of our options because Amazon makes it easy.
If someone says they have the least expensive gadget, we can just check on Amazon. If someone says a product is amazing, we read their reviews on Amazon.
What does this have to do with churches?
1). When people hear a preacher say something that they question, they’ll look it up on their phones.
As I said above, when a company claims to have the least expensive gadget, I look it up. Amazon’s growth has resulted in people developing more of a habit of fact checking. This is a good thing. It keeps preachers honest.
2). If people are looking for a new church, they’ll read reviews people post online.
If a church claims they’re strong in a certain area, people can figure it out fairly quickly due to being more familiar with hunting for truth on Amazon, Google, and other popular websites.
I never make big purchases without first reading reviews. I can’t imagine joining a church without going to their Google and Facebook reviews. Whether I like it or not, reviewing churches is important to a church’s reputation.
This, of course, brings up the conversation between idealism vs. pragmatism. Idealistically, people wouldn’t go online and click a certain number of stars to judge how good a church is. This is consumeristic. Pragmatically, people do this. Deal with it and be strategic about it.
3). Amazon SEO is going to become a much bigger deal.
We’ve heard a lot, the last few years, about search engine optimization (SEO), specifically in pertinence to Google. Amazon SEO is going to become a much bigger deal. Articles like this one will help you in this area.
Since so few churches are dealing with Amazon SEO, now is the time to be on top of this. Get on the front end of a major technological need.
4). People will do more and more used to shopping online, and this will trickle into people getting more and more used to “going to church” online.
This is a major topic that I’ve addressed in a two-part post (part 1 & part 2). In 20 years, we will all wear contact lenses that blend together reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality. This means it will be hard to discern the difference between myself physically standing on a stage or Steven Furtick augmented onto our church’s stage.
The beginning part of this transition to the extreme societal transition to the acceptance of online church is Amazon’s growth and the acceptance of online dating. Ten years ago, online dating was weird. Now, its hard to find single adults who don’t have an account with one of the various services available to help them find a mate.
A new day is here and a new day is coming. Accept it. Leverage it for Jesus. Reach people in our ever-changing world with the un-changing Gospel!