A New Year’s Resolution: The IKEA Effect

IKEA is the largest retail furniture store in the world! Last year more than 771 million people visited an IKEA store. Linda and I were two of them. Now that we live in Portland, we decided to check it out. It is an extraordinary experience.

IKEA has a secret many people are not aware of: The fact that buyers must assemble their own furniture adds value for both the company and the buyer.

Did you know that people are willing to pay 63% more for furniture they put together themselves as opposed to furniture that comes pre-assembled?  Yes! That’s what research has shown.  It’s now known as “The IKEA effect.” (The same principle works at the store, Build-a-Bear.)

Simply put, people value something more if they put time and effort into it. It’s a great business model for IKEA: customers finish off the job themselves (which saves the company money) and appreciate it more for having done just that!

(By the way, did you know the name IKEA is an acronym? It is made up of the initials of the company’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, the farm he grew up on, Elmtaryd, and the town where the farm is located, Agunnaryd, Sweden.)


Here’s my New Year’s resolution for 2017:  To have everyone work together to “assemble” a healthier local church!  The fact is, some leaders and pastors are reluctant to let others help build the church. I’m not sure why, but it’s hard to let go (I’m speaking to myself, too).

IKEA can teach us some things about increased participation in our congregations in 2017.

  1. Like IKEA, help people see what could be.

People often need to see things before they will commit to them. The inside of IKEA is a gallery of possibilities. As you walk through the showroom, you see all the potential for your own home.

Are we giving our congregations a picture of what could be this coming year?  The clearer we cast the vision, the more likely others are going to support and actively participate in it.

  1. Like IKEA, require involvement.

We live in a remarkably passive culture. It’s normal to spend hours a week watching screens to see our favorite show, sports team, or cat video.

But the church is not a spectator sport. In our roles as leaders and pastors we must invite our congregations into full engagement with the life of the church—not to watch worship, but to worship; not to watch service, but to serve; not to listen to a sermon, but to live out a sermon.

Our congregations will enjoy their church homes more if they are involved.

  1. Like IKEA, clearly point out the needs.

You wouldn’t shop at IKEA unless you needed a chair to sit on, a table to eat at or a desk to work at. Likewise, as church leaders we need to help others see the needs around us. There’s an old song entitled”People need the Lord!”  That’s so true.  We all desperately need him.

How can we point people to Jesus who can meet our deepest needs?

  1. Like IKEA, keep it simple.

If you’ve ever purchased something from IKEA, then you’ve seen their instructions. What’s unusual about them is that there aren’t any words, only pictures. They must be simple so that the assembly process moves along and is free of frustration and/or error.

IKEA is always trying to balance the ease of assembly with the need of packages to be as flat and condensed as possible. Because they have to be simple, engineers are the first to test the directions, to make sure they work.

How clear are the instructions we give our congregations? Can they build on what we are sharing with them?


Have you ever shopped at IKEA? What other distinctions do they have that we can learn from?

One thing is a cautionary word: You’ll notice that most things at IKEA are a veneer. They are what they are on the surface only. They look good, but they sometimes don’t hold up well they are moved.  The Christian faith is not a veneer—we are not meant to look good, but to be good, living from the heart out.

What are some of your New Year’s goals for the local church?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill Vermillion says:

    Thanks Randy. We first encountered IKEA in Moscow Russia. In addition to your many good and valid observations, IKEA also adjust their stores to the country’s culture while educating on Scandinavia. I think the application is obvious. I would also add community is promoted by the inexpensive food and clean cafeteria which they also offer along with very helpful employees. May God be honored as we work together in the New Year for His sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beka says:

    “Did you know that people are willing to pay 63% more for furniture they put together themselves as opposed to furniture that comes pre-assembled?” —— I had no idea! I’ve never been to IKEA or shopped their products online, but I assumed that it was priced cheap BECAUSE you had to assemble the furniture… cheap furniture at that. I have always been amazed that people will drive so far just to go there. Maybe it’s worth it, but I don’t get the hype. *Kind of like some (or many) church services though – they “look nice” on the exterior, the buildings are nice, the decor is trendy, the leaders are “hip” – but the core/ nitty gritty does not hold much value or lead to spiritual growth a lot of times. (I think I need coffee…… but not cheap furniture – have I said too much?)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Daniel says:

    Supt. Randy – What a great illustration: Share a vision; Include them; Meet a perceived need; Keep it simple… and a lot of other points between. Thanks for painting such a good picture for us!

    Liked by 1 person

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