Something highly unusual has been happening over the past several years. There is no doubt that it is more expensive to live now than it was 10 years ago, but have you noticed how many things we have available today that are now free? I remember when I got my first free web-based email account. My hotmail account had like 2MB of space on it. I seem to recall hitting that 2MB limit every few months and I’d have to go in and clear out all the stuff I didn’t need. A few years later I switched over to Yahoo because they offered 5MB. I knew there was always the option of paying $25 a year for 500MB or something like that. Then, out of the blue Google came along and offered 1GB. For free. No strings attached. The only catch? Google bots would look for key words in your mail and post relevant advertising on the side. I was sold!
Now free is everywhere. A year ago I got the Dish. I got a free DVR which I can’t imagine life without. Sure I pay $4 a month for DVR service, but that beats shelling out $250 for the box. My first 2 cell phones I got were free as long as I signed a contract for phone service. Last summer Prince placed 2.8 million copies of his new CD in the Sunday edition of London’s Daily Mail. There’s even an airline (Ryanair) that offers flight from London to Barcelona for just $20 (they hope to make it free soon). It’s a completely new model and way of doing business. The offer of making it free attracts customers like crazy and the hope is that you’ll like it enough to pay for some premium features. These businesses also hope to make some money from advertising to you as well. It’s a cool concept that’s event crept it’s way into the ministry.
At one time you could find all kinds of ministry resources by subscribing to magazines, monthly newsletters or other “paid” resources. Now, many of the very same people are producing free resources and articles through blogs, podcasts and web sites. Those that continue to charge will eventually have to modify their business plan or fall to the wayside. Change is inevitable and competition is only growing. There is always something bigger and better right around the corner. I remember 10 years ago when the only resources I had as a CP was denominational curriculum, a few independent curriculum like Willie George stuff and Children’s Ministry Magazine. Shoot, Church on the Move was the only “national” children’s ministry I had ever heard of. Now there are several magazines, dozens of blogs and several “national” children’s ministries with many new ones on the horizon. It’s a good time to be in Children’s Ministry and I would imagine that in another 10 years it will be even better.
There’s a great article on the concept for “Free” in the March 2008 issue of WIRED magazine right here.
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