If you’re a techy person, you’ve seen the fight that’s brewing in the mobile payment sphere. Just as Apple launched their new Apple Pay system - where people can use their iPhone instead of a plastic card - stores began pulling the plug on the cash registers that can accept that type of payment.
The move has nothing to do with the popularity of mobile payments. Instead, on its face, it’s about money. Large retailers like Walmart, CVS and Home Depot are in the middle of developing their own system, called CurrentC, which they will want people to use instead. They’ll save the fees associated with swiping credit cards or paying mobile system owners like Apple.
You may ask why is a church communications blog talking about retail payments? The answer is when you peel away all of the layers of this brouhaha, there is a core customer service debate at its root.
Here’s the lesson for churches: There is a difference between forcing people to do what you think is right instead of listening to them and serving their needs.
CurrentC retailers want to force mobile payment users into their technology so they can grow business. They want to analyze your data to learn more about you as a customer so they can market to you. Plus, they want to eliminate the credit card swipe fees to make larger profits.
And Apple is in the business of making money, too. They get a small slice every time someone uses Apple Pay. But their technology is more in line with what their customers want. The payment app is easy to use. You tap a cash register pad and confirm the purchase with a fingerprint. Apple doesn’t collect any data about you and your payment information is actually disguised to make it harder to steal.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m pro-business. But from a philosophy standpoint I believe it’s always good to give customers what they want. In the end that makes them fonder of your organization and ultimately will help them be more loyal to you. As a customer, I love the ease and security of Apple Pay. I don’t want to be forced into something else.
Churches often have the same struggle. The gospel is a message that isn’t changing. From that perspective, we’re like a business that has its own priorities. We shouldn’t compromise God’s Word just to attract people. Yet we do have to do a better job of understanding our congregations and surrounding communities. How are we reaching them? How can our communication be tailored to be relevant to their needs? We can't just rely on what worked in the past.
Churches should not be a closed door “my way or the highway” organization. Jesus tailored His uncompromising message to communicate with people in their context.