You may have heard this quote by Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” The idea is that when people buy something, they don’t necessarily want the product itself; they want a particular job done. They are buying a product to get a job done. It’s not the thing, but the need that the thing fills… or doesn’t fill.
I know there’s a long history of tension between marketing and Christianity. Sometimes that relationship has been handled poorly. But what would it look like for you to examine your church or ministry to see the difference between the “products” you’re offering (usually various programs and services) and the actual needs that people have? In what cases are we trying to fill spiritual and relational needs with programs that don’t actually do the job? How could we focus more on the need– and the real fulfillment of that need– than on the product?