A decrease in trust, the a la carte mentality of society abroad, and the "I want it my way" view, all add up to one thing for camps and retreat centers...more groups! The 1950's summer Christian Camp and Retreat Center model that most of us still emulate may still work where our reputation is trusted and proven, but what are we doing to connect with and convert new potential fans to our mission?
Then again...do you know who your new potential fans even are?
Mark P. Fisher, former President of Sandy Cove, a Christian Camp and Retreat Center, did some research of his own when he was at Sandy Cove a couple years ago...
Research reveals startling shift in camp and retreat consumer behavior
"When SCM commissioned the calling of 3000 churches within 4-hour drive of their Christian Camp and Retreat Center, we were not prepared for the outcome." comments former SCM President, MPF. "Our research was based on a single question," Fisher retells, "who is the person responsible for planning your overnight Christian Camps and Retreats"?
What % do you think said they don't do Christian Camp and Retreat overnight events anymore?
Over half of the Christian camps and retreat target audience doesn't buy what we were selling any longer. ( It would be helpful to compare this to a previous study, but 52% is the baseline. ) It must have been much different 10, 20, 30 years ago when camps and conference centers were trying to keep up with demand.
Therefore, ministry leaders must wrestle with an important, market-driven question: if only 48% of the target market are buying, do they want to run their own program or join in to existing programs run by the Christian Camp or conference center?
Countless hours can be spent asking why.
At the core, Fisher believes the answer is in your pocket or purse.
"Smartphones have changed how we connect and consume content."
The value and priority of overnight events is rapidly dropping when people can 'connect' quickly, conveniently and cheaper.
- Hey, Skype or Face-Time me later.
- YouTube that talk...
Fisher continues, "If the Christian Camps and Retreat Center leaders who are stewarding millions of acres of land, in beautiful places with meeting and guest rooms want to be relevant, maybe the question could be: 'what can we create to foster transformation rather than just the transfer of information?"
Mark's research definitely revealed my exact sentiments. Old fans aren't your fans so much anymore and it's time to start reaching your new potential fan base.
I will therefore leave you with this... if you don't start making changes and adapting, you will miss the chance to convert new potential fans to life long partners in your mission!