Why did Kodak die? The simple answer is that people stopped buying film. Besides the world’s most famous film, Kodachrome, Kodak made darkroom chemicals and papers. Today, when photographs are printed people use inkjets. There are those who would fault Kodak’s leadership with not shifting full time into the digital camera market or becoming a leader in providing paper and ink. This is worst kind of Monday morning quarterbacking. Kodak has enjoyed great leadership. They would need a leader like Harry Potter to take on Canon, Nikon, or Epson. The digital market already belongs to others. Similar flights of fantasy occur when Bishops seek for young, highly trained, clergy persons to turn around the institutional church. New leaders aren’t going to teach this old institution to dance.
Leadership is important. Responding to context and current reality is even more important. Kodak has died, and through the miracle of bankruptcy, emerged as a new company, one hundredth the size of the old giant. This new Kodak, which specializes in movie film and imaging products, has the same survival chances of any new start up (1:5). It is basically a baby. The more it thinks like a new born child, the more likely it is to do what needs done today to grow. The point is, is there is nothing a leader can do, except seek the best way to position the assets, before they all depart, to provide seed capital for something new. We need to be grasped is that there is nothing that the old Kodak has which the new Kodak can use, except perhaps for a few patents. There is nothing that the old church has which the new emerging church can use, except for some cash.
I think our focus needs to be on the current mission that Jesus calls us to. Each congregation needs to discern its own calling. The question, “How do we get out onto our street and show the love of Jesus?” needs to drive us through the transition into the post modern age. We are Kodak, there is nothing we can do to change that. The only thing God expects of us is to be faithful to the Gospel.