Church In The Netflix Era
August 3, 2022 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Deep Thoughts

Netflix Eating BlockBuster Deep Thoughts

BlockBuster Vs. Netflix

It amazes me that some people I know never went to Blockbuster Video. For people of my generation that was THE highlight of Friday night as a kid. Our parents took us to Blockbuster and we had the most amazing opportunity:

We could choose whatever movie we wanted.

Those of you who are older than I am, know full well that prior to Blockbuster Video, what you got on TV was what you got. Between 1952 and 1980, outside of regional TV stations, viewers were mostly limited to 3 networks. Cable television expanded the offerings, but not the flexibility. It wasn’t until VCR technology was introduced in 1976 that companies like Blockbuster were able to bring “choice” to a specific viewing hour. The VCR did not only introduce “choice” into the content selection but now expanded the idea that consumers could pick the “when” of viewing as well.

Enter Netflix in 1997.

Starting in California, Netflix generally offered the same product as Blockbuster, only now consumers controlled a little more of the “where” aspect of viewing too. Yes, you still had to watch on a TV and at home, but now you don’t have to drive anywhere because the movie comes by mail. Even more, you don’t have to rush to get it before everyone else, so you don’t even have to see anyone enjoy your movie.

Then, in 2007, Netflix introduces this radical new idea of streaming movies. Now you don’t even have to wait. Eventually, they revolutionized this technology to jive with mobile devices, so now consumers of TV content control the “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how” of everything they digest.

The consumer is now in control.

That’s a good thing, right? Consumers dictate the free market and companies have to innovate with better or cheaper products to meet the demands of the customers. It’s democracy through dollars. What could be better?

What happens when consumer control is at odds with the core “why” of an institution?

“Then [Jesus] said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?”

(John 9:23-25 NRSV)

“Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

(Acts 4:32-35 NRSV)

Netflix-ization of Church

Quoting these scriptures is not to suggest that entering into an institution like a church or a school means you enter with blind, unscrupulous faith. It doesn’t mean that the voices of all people aren’t valuable and you should keep your mouth shut and submit to the superintendent or pastor in all things, especially if they are harmful. It’s not even to suggest that “user experience” isn’t important as we seek to share God’s love in ways that are relevant and able to be received. But it is important to ask how churches and schools and other institutions in which humility is absolutely essential to a positive outcome are influenced by “Netflix-ization.”

  • Does radical individuality lose the necessity of community?
  • Does an emphasis on personal preference negate the humility of accountability?
  • Does a schedule built around “me” cause us to miss the love built through sacrifice?
  • Does an expectation of control lose the point of the Gospel and the early Church?
  • Does being the center of the universe negate our ability to be challenged, learn, and grow wiser?


The beauty of what church lies in “what” we can become “when” we recognize “who” is the “why” behind “how” things ought to be. By giving ourselves collectively to Jesus, the Spirit empowers us individually to build up a better community than we could have imagined by ourselves. I’d love for us to all ask these questions ourselves:

  • “WHO am I truly connected to?”
  • “WHAT do I really want out of life?”
  • “WHERE is my peace found?”
  • “WHY am I here?”
  • “HOW will I take up my cross and follow Jesus?”


David Lessner

Donating Backpacks Deep Thoughts

Thank you to everyone who donated a backpack to help those students that ACO is helping. Creekwood was generous with the amount of 86 backpacks! Way to share God’s love!

Give to the Ministries of Creekwood

Help out with Kids and Students

1) There will be a Thank You Reception for Katrina Smith and Donna Bartholomew, who are transitioning out of their staff roles after this Sunday. Katrina and Donna have brought a lot to our church in 4 and 7 years (respectively) and we want to thank them appropriately. The reception will be after the Contemporary Worship at 12pm in the Middle School House (by the playground). Come share well-wishes and enjoy time with them.

Smith Bartholomew Reception

2) As we close out our annual ministry budget on July 31, we are projecting a deficit of around $50,000, which is better than expected but still not our ideal of balance. With a strong end of the calendar year, we were in a great position heading into May, but giving has fallen off with the summer months. As you undoubtedly have noticed, we are doing all that we can expense-wise to be responsible and live within our means while still honoring God and providing excellence in our ministries. I will invite you to prayerfully consider a financial gift to the church to best position us moving into the school year and new ministry year.

3) Backpacks for ACO are due Thursday, July 29th. Please bring them up to the church so we can get them in the right hands. Thank you to all who have donated so generously so far! If you want to buy one online, you can still do so.

ACO Backpacks