The Demise of CNN+ and the Church

Did you see the news that CNN+ (the streaming service established by CNN) stopped operations just weeks after it was launched? Hundreds will lose their jobs. CNN lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the ill-fated attempt to enter the streaming world. While spending all that money hyping the new venture, CNN+ was averaging just 10,000 viewers a day (not exactly a flood of viewers in our connected planet of 7 billion people). This may go down as a bigger blunder than the “new Coke” fiasco in the 1980’s. I was not one of the 150,000 CNN+ subscribers (they wanted 2 million in the first year). I had no skin in the game (in other words).  Whatever your opinion of CNN, there is value in looking at what went wrong. Clearly, I don’t know the inner workings of a media giant. From an outside observer who is interested in the long-term health of an organization (the church), here are a few of my takeaways:

1) Count the cost. 
I’ve written before if you are not failing sometimes you aren’t trying. Sometimes things don’t work out. You gotta try. But whew… you also have to count the cost. Unlike a media giant my church (and probably yours) can’t afford to lose thousands (let alone millions). It’s important to know the cost whatever the task. This is a good lesson for trustees or building and finance committees. 

2) Understand the need (and what is not needed)
Was CNN+ trying to scratch and itch that no one had? Apparently. Most people thought they could find similar content for free elsewhere. The need for a news streaming service, simply wasn’t there. This point will come into play most with our mission endeavors. Churches need to assess the community needs and determine what can and cannot be done to make the biggest impact on their city for Jesus.

3). Unity is Essential
CNN’s former CEO resigned in a scandal; other scandals have rocked the network; and a merger happened where the new CEO viewed the CNN+ reality differently than the previous leadership. Instability and upheaval could best describe life at CNN. All this to say, it’s a mess. Jesus was so incredibly right (duh) when he said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25). The equation is simple: Division equals death. For any organization to be successful (churches included), it must be united. The old line is still true: In Essentials Unity; In non-essentials liberty; In all things Charity. 

4) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Clearly there was a failure to communicate in this process. Some people must have known this was coming; knew the trouble looming; knew the errors made and details but the message either wasn’t heard or wasn’t spoken. In any event, there was a failure to communicate. In new ventures, in any changes, in any mission type endeavors communicate the happenings to the church body to the point you are sick of it. Communicate and over-communicate. There must be buy in from the church to the mission at hand.

5. The Church isn’t a Media Corporation.
File this under: “It’s so Obvious, why are you pointing this out?” The Church isn’t a media corporation, but we have the BEST NEWS. As such, let’s keep proclaiming Jesus using whatever tools our modern world provides (read: print, social media, texting, anything, everything) to proclaim the good, good news! We don’t need CNN+. Let’s participate with God Almighty making the Church+.