Wednesday, 19 May 2010
By Justin at BeDeviant
Cynthia Ware is a pro. I’ve been privileged enough to collaborate with her on a few projects recently, and I’m consistently impressed by her expertise and care. She knows Church. She knows new media–for pity’s sakes she has a degree in it!
She gets it.
I was researching for a workshop I’ll be leading at Faith Lift in the Twin Cities next month, and I came across this gem from Cynthia. The title of the article is “Technology and the Virtual Church”, but it focuses on the very fabric that makes up the clothes of the Body of Christ. It’s all-encompassing. The vision that Cynthia lays out is compelling. Superb.
Here’s a portion of the article that struck me. Cynthia contrasts the culture of the church with the mindset of the “rest” of the world:
The culture of church hegemony stands in stark contrast to the emerging mindsets influencing other fields of inquiry today. From education to business, from entertainment to politics, new values are evolving out of our interdependent, transparent, wired world. And these values are rapidly galvanizing new paradigms of order, operation, and currency replacing the top-down, proprietary, program-driven systems of yesterday.
I’m haunted by these words. They ring true in my very soul. I feel compelled to do something about it. The only question is, What? It feels like so much is shifting and changing in our world, let alone the church, that it’s hard to know where to start. What do you do in the face of a systematic structural shift that’s changing the game in every way possible?
Top-down hierarchy is dissolving.
Power-brokers no longer have sole access to the information that brought them power.
Geographical boundaries no longer present the limitations that they once did.
The web culture is changing the game in so many different aspects of our daily lives that it’s hard to gain a grasp on what we’re in the middle of. Lest I get overwhelmed, here are three concrete steps I am taking to not get lost in this cultural shift:
- Love the content, not the form. The reality of Christ is a constant. It’s like Penny to Desmond. An anchor. That’s the content, so to speak. The form of the Gospel–the way in which it is delivered–is constantly changing. If I love the form over the content, I will quickly become angered at change, disillusioned, and heavily resistant to differing forms.
- Hour of power. I will take time every day to learn and educate myself on what kind of world we’re entering in to as the church. This means I will spend time listening to non-Christian authors and speakers who are on the forefront of this cultural shift. I will tweet, update my status, check my RSS feeds on Google Reader and blog faithfully. Not simply for the sake of “doing it,” but to accumulate cultural currency that I can use to build relationships for the sake of the Gospel.
- I will honor the past while looking towards the future. The last thing the world needs is another young punk who thinks he knows something when he doesn’t. I’m not interested in being that person. Who I am interested in being is someone who can bridge the gaps between the old and the new, the online and offline, the Church and culture. This means respecting the forms that the Spirit has used in previous generations while constantly looking for what he is up to now. In the words of a wise friend, “Different is not bad. Different’s just different.” The cultural shift ahead will be wild enough. The last thing anyone inside the Church is in-fighting and sniping. That will make the road bumpier.
Those are my thoughts and observations on how technology is changing the church culture:
It’s ambiguous, but very real. It’s threatening, but invigorating. It’s in the future, but it’s also right now.
What steps are you taking to make sure you (and your Church) don’t get washed ashore by the cultural tide?