Maybe your church should pull a 'Google'

Google instantly confused and irritated (and profusely angered) millions of people yesterday.

It announced that it is shutting down Google Reader.

I did not see this coming.

I love Google Reader.  I use it to aggregate all the feeds that I use to find great stuff for this blog, and for Ministry Briefing.

How could they do this?

Why could they do this?

And I was not alone.  Do a search on Twitter, and you’ll see the rampage that people went on.

It was not pretty.

People are PLEADING with Google not to do this.

Please don’t take away something we use and love.

Why did Google do it?

“While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.”

Google evidently saw something that I (or a few million others didn’t).  Most people were NOT using Google Reader… in fact, less and less.  And to continue putting leadership and resources into this program did not make sense.


Sometimes as church leaders we have to make the same determination.

Canning a program that some people absolutely LOVE… yet it’s taking up too many resources, or has dwindled over the years.

People will be upset.  They will plead.  They will cry.

But you still know it’s the right thing to do.

Maybe you need to pull a Google in your church.

You’ll make some people upset… but you know it’s the only way that you can do what you really think you need to do.

QUESTION:  Where could your church free up some resources by stopping something that some people think is working?

Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube




  • steve carr March 14, 2013 Reply

    I’m one of those scorned Google Reader users and, while I see the attempt to make this story relevant to ministry, I think it speaks against what you’ve suggested here, Todd.

    Although Google claims usage was “down,” the true issue is that there was no way to monetize Reader. In fact, one of the benefits of Reader is that you could avoid ad-laden websites which, ultimately, was costing Google revenue. As many online have speculated, I believe that this was the reason that they’re actually eliminating the service.

    But what this backlash has shown is that Reader kept people loyal to Google services in the first place. The interwebs are full today of people vowing to move their email and other online services away from Google because they’re preferences are being dismissed so easily.

    This, I believe, is the more valuable lesson to be had. Even though that program or ministry might not appear to be viable within strict quantitative terms, are you underestimating the impact of its reach? Too often, leaders will not deeply mine behind the statistics to discover how important a ministry truly is.

    Sure, Google will survive, but they’re bread and butter—high-impact users—are extremely angry. If Yahoo or Facebook was smart now, they’d have their people developing a similar application to Reader.

    So while it seems visionary, it could actually be ineptitude.

    • Joel Zehring March 15, 2013 Reply

      “bread and butter—high-impact users—”

      How many of those Reader users were paying for Google services? Google is telling us the answer through their actions: not many. I know I’ve never payed for Google’s exceptional services, and I also have used Reader frequently for a number of years. Makes me wonder which services make Google the most money, or give Google the most valuable data for selling advertising. Apparently, Google doesn’t make much money from the data I give them through my selection of RSS feeds.

      So, what is the “bread and butter” of a church? What programs or initiatives deliver the most return on investment? “Where your treasure lies…”

  • Nate Pyle March 14, 2013 Reply

    We “googled” our once a month brunch that happened after our worship service. This informal program lasted 20 years and was acclaimed as I interviewed with the church. But during my four years at the church attendance (and food!) was dropping and few of the newer members were not attending. We cancelled brunch and you would have thought we were canceling Christmas! But six months later we didn’t hear any more complaints, and the events that have taken its place have spurred creativity.

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