People love a winner. They want the best of the best. And they don't have time to go sorting through choices to find it anymore... so they go with word-of-mouth, a trusted recommendation.
The first church in a community to reach a high level of excellence and relevance quickly becomes the "default church" for the churched and the unchurched alike. After all, people love a winner. And they avoid losers.
Without realizing it, this landmark church creates a long-tail distribution, where they get first pickings by an incredible margin, and every other church and church plant gets the long tail... the left-overs. They simply don't have the resources, manpower or momentum to be a viable choice for the community. Over time, many of these churches either die or stall-out.
Churches have fallen into the same market forces that push winners far ahead of the pack and ignore the runners-up. Because people love winners, a community puts up barriers to prevent other churches from making it. In some sense, they don't want your church plant to succeed.
It is, unfortunately, at this moment that many church planters decide to call it quits. They think it's useless to keep pushing into a community that doesn't want them there. But by quitting, they create more scarcity of churches. And scarcity creates more value for the winners.
Coming up... Every church plant faces "a dip" of nearly insurmountable proportions they have to get through in order to thrive in a local community and get out of the long tail. But it is possible... and, in fact, highly valuable to go through it.
*This series of posts is based on Seth Godin's new book The Dip