Lessons from Netflix?

As I was listening to radio news today, I heard a report that Netflix is going back on a decision they made months ago, mainly, to not separate the DVD and streaming options from subscriber plans. Now, I’m not a Netflix user. I don’t know all the details of how this came about. But I do know that Netflix’s stock prices has tumbled 50% since the announcement that happened months ago and that is because Netflix has lost about one million subscribers. It was those two facts that caused Netflix to realize its mistake and make a change.

This is not a business blog, but I think Netflix has something to teach us who are involved in leadership and ministry. Netflix started to realize that things were changing for them. They chose to respond with a certain strategy. That strategy caused enough “pain” for Netflix to reverse their decision. Netflix taught me a few things:

  1. Sometimes we have to be bold and make a decision to move forward, even if we don’t know what the results will be. For Netflix, that means changing how its subscriptions work. For us in ministry, it means changing the way we minister so that it truly engages people to follow Christ and be transformed.
  2. When something does not work, change it. Netflix did. So can we. Not everything we do in ministry is going to work. We have to try new things. However, if it doesn’t work, we can always make another change. The trap that we often fall into in ministry is the following statement: “We’ve always done it that way.” Actually, no we haven’t always done it that way. The other trap is this: “We just made the change. We can’t change it back.” Actually, you can. If it doesn’t work, change again!
  3. Listen to our members. Netflix heard loud and clear from stockholders and its subscribers. So they reversed their decision. We must take the time to listen to our members and those we serve. They will help us refine and reshape our decisions and help us make changes that are best for the needs of those we serve.
  4. Don’t wait until the pain is too great! Netflix has caused a lot of damage to its brand. The lesson for us in ministry is that we need to change as soon as we see signs that the ministry strategy we employed is not working. We cannot afford to damage our relationships with the faithful that come to our ministry and church each week.

Who knew Netflix could teach me so much about ministry? Thanks for the lesson!

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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