A better understanding of consumer behavior improves leadership. Consumers purchase varied goods and services to increase their total satisfaction (utility).
As a consumer uses more of a product, the additional satisfaction (marginal utility) will eventually decline. This law of diminishing marginal utility means the product becomes less satisfying with additional purchases. To sell more product, businesses or organizations must either lower price, increase the customer base, or increase demand by offering a new or improved product.
Apple computer understands the law of diminishing marginal utility and uses it to their advantage. Every year, give or take a few months, Apple comes out with a new and improved model for their popular iPhone. Consumers, analysts and the press try to predict the size, speed, camera, screen, enhanced features and timing of the new model. Apple periodically releases totally new products that also create their own set of predictions.
Buzz is generated. Current customers anticipate its release and wonder if they will upgrade. Others eagerly await expiration of their current contracts so they may upgrade. Announcement of the specifications of the new iPhone creates additional buzz. Whether the announcement exceeds or misses expectations, buzz is created. Non-iPhone users are exposed to the buzz and interest is aroused. Apple has created an environment where the world expects and anticipates the next iPhone.
As ministers are we creating the buzz that Apple computer has managed to generate. The kingdom is more exciting, powerful, useful and satisfying than any technological advance. It has eternal rewards, and is filled with righteousness, peace and joy. The power of the kingdom is unlimited and is a free gift of God. The kingdom is the solution for all the world's problems.
Is our congregation filled with expectation and anticipation when they come to church? What is the Lord going to do today? How is the Holy Spirit going to move? What new aspect of His nature are we going to learn from the Word today? What miracles will be manifest? What testimonies are we going to hear about the Lord's goodness, faithfulness and miracle-working power during the past week? Are we going to have the chance to bless someone new? Will the solution to our problems become evident?
If our churches became known for the presence of God, our congregation and our communities would be filled with expectation and anticipation.
Unfortunately, too many of our churches attempt to compensate for a drop in marginal utility or satisfaction by attempting to compete with the world. Clear presentation of the good news of the Kingdom is replaced by entertaining productions. The cost of discipleship is downplayed. The service will not last longer than the allotted time. Sermons are chosen so as not to offend. Heaven is emphasized but hell is never mentioned. The Word is not stressed although we may include one or two verses so as not be criticized. The Holy Spirit is almost never mentioned. Miracles are discussed in the past tense, but are not to be expected now. Cultural expectations are more important than Biblical commands.
To bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, we must get back to the biblical model. The gospel of the kingdom must be taught, modeled and demonstrated. The saints must be equipped with the knowledge, power and assurances of the kingdom.
The holy buzz created will change the world. Saints will be changed from victims to victors; from the defeated to overcomers for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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