Netflix Takes a Dive (or Two)

Netflix has recently announced the cancellation of sixteen of their TV shows. The reason given is almost maddening on its face. Series’ (like Bloodline, for example) are being dropped prematurely despite any popularity they may be experiencing.

Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, says it’s because their “hit ration is way too high right now.” That’s like me saying, “We’re going to cancel worship because we’re getting too many people in the pews.” Our solution to that almost unimaginable dilemma would be to add another service—not cancel the one we have.

His reasoning behind that statement is to make room for the company to take more risks. I guess I understand that idea. Risk taking should be a part of the entertainment industry (or any industry for that matter). Still, there’s an old saying that seems to hold true in most situations. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Netflix seems bound and determined to fix it anyway.

“Now I’m beginning to understand.”

Apparently, Netflix is not the only media outlet that’s involved in the cancelation craze. I’ve had a few of my faves canceled from time to time—seemingly without warning. Good, solid shows that were well written and entertaining… There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. Now I’m beginning to understand—a little.

As much as I hate to see some good programming go down the tubes at the whim of a network exec, I have to admire what’s taking place. We, in the church, could stand to take a lesson from all this.

For the most part, the church hasn’t changed since the days of the Reformation. Just to remind you of a little history, that was five hundred years ago. I realize most of us resist change, but that’s a bit ridiculous.

It’s become a common theme among pastors these days to make statements like, “The things I used to do don’t work anymore.” So what do we do? We keep on doing the things we’ve always done. Don’t look now, but I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of insanity (doing the same old thing over and over yet expecting different results).

“The good old days are long gone.”

Still, it’s not just pastors who do the same things over and over again. Even when an innovative pastor comes along, ninety-nine times out of one hundred the congregation bucks any new trend. If part of the flock is ready for the change, there are usually at least a few who are willing and able to stand in the way of any variance to the good old days.

The problem, of course, is that the good old days are long gone. We’ve proven we can’t bring them back by doing the same old things. So what’s the solution?

I hate to say it, but the solution just may be to follow in the footsteps of Netflix. In other words, take a few risks. We might fall flat on our collective faces, but we seem to be doing that anyway. So… Does anyone have any ideas? Anyone?

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

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