Swanson begins his presentation with a brief recap on his definition of city transformation: The integration of the good news and good deeds of Jesus that brings about spiritual and societal transformation. He believes this is made possible when the whole church brings the whole gospel to the whole person in the whole city.
Swanson goes on to introduce three business models for a church. The first is a pipeline—a system where the producer (pastor) manufactures a product (a sermon) and delivers it straight to the consumer (his church). Swanson says most churches fall under this category.
The second model is a portal, where the church functions as a doorway to opportunities, but doesn’t measure interactions. An example of this is a church that holds a fair for members to get involved with local service programs.
The final model is a platform. This system creates a place for things to happen that already want to happen. Swanson gives the examples of Airbnb, Uber, and Facebook. These platforms simply capitalize on the latent energy in consumers and give them a place to turn it into active energy.
Swanson says all churches connect, know, match, and catalyze in their daily work. Platforms follow a very similar formula. By identifying a core interaction—the simplest, repeatable, efficient step platforms foster—churches can better measure their steps toward city transformation. Swanson suggests a core interaction such as “One Christ follower helping someone else experience life as God intended it” as a good starting point.
Platforms are excellent tools because they allow diverse groups to work together, can be scaled with low cost, and can help churches measure their impact. If adopted by faithful churches, Swanson believes platforms are the key to unleashing unstoppable city transformation across the nation.