We begin 2017 by racing into a new decade that is likely to change at warp speed. As a consequence, leaders in our churches need to learn from the business world how to prepare for change and anticipate a host of new challenges before they arrive so that we all have lead time to create new and innovative responses.
One of the gifts of the V3 Blog is the constant invitation for us to join others in creating new, innovative forms of church for changing times. However, as we gallop into the turbulent 2020s, we will also need to be as innovative in creating new forms of both change making and life making if we are to have any hope of engaging the avalanche of new opportunities likely to come our way.
The Age of Accelerations
In times of accelerating human need we and our churches will need to move from resourcing others through handouts to creating new forms of social enterprise and community empowerment that actually enable our most vulnerable neighbors to become more self-reliant.
However, if we and our churches are going to have time to be involved in creating change, we will need to enable one another to create new ways of life making that enable us to free up time to be more present to God and our neighbors. We will need to create much more purpose-focused, compassionate, and creative lives—in the way of Jesus.
In his new book Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Thomas Friedman explains why the rate of change is accelerating. Friedman asserts the three major forces accelerating change are “technology, globalization and climate change.”
Friedman begins by identifying some of the recent tech innovations that are powerfully contributing to this new age of acceleration. Presenting in title the question, “What Happened in 2007?”, Friedman answers: Steve Jobs introduced us to the I-phone, Facebook moved off campus, Twitter appeared, and Amazon released the Kindle. He adds that in 2006 Google bought You Tube, and in 2007 it released Android.
In ten years no one will doubt that the accelerating rate of climate change is putting the future of our children and grandchildren in serious peril. I suspect the political change in the United States will also accelerate the rate of political and economic change in the coming decade not only in the US, but throughout our world.
One of the unexpected changes in the past four years is the rapidly growing refugee crisis. At the end of World War II there were a record 60 million refugees. Today we are facing a global humanitarian crisis with over 65 million refugees searching for a safe place to resettle their families.
Friedman predicts rapid rates of population growth in North Africa and the Middle East are likely to create an even greater refugee crisis in the coming decade.
Live Like You Give a Damn!
In Live Like You Give A Damn! Join the Changemaking Celebration, I argue that we need to take seriously not only the compassion of the millennial generation for our neighbors, but also their ability to imagine and create new forms of social enterprise and empowerment. These things can often make a lasting difference in their lives in ways that church handouts will never accomplish.
Innové in the Twin Cities, for example, sponsors social enterprise competitions. All you need to participate is to be under 35 and have a good idea. A young woman named Leah Driscoll won first place in 2013. Leah was deeply concerned that nearly 300,000 of her neighbors in the Twin Cities lived in a “food desert,” an area where people don’t have access to grocery stores or fresh produce.
Leah and her friends responded by creating the Mobile Market. They bought an old municipal bus and changed it into a mobile grocery store. It travels to different neighborhoods every day offering food at reasonable prices. And it pays for itself. Leah and her team plan to purchase four more busses to enable even more of their neighbors to buy groceries at a reasonable price.
What would happen if churches not only started inviting the change-making ideas of those under 35, but also joined them by creating a range of innovative ways to enable our neighbors to become more self-reliant in light of a future likely to present us with more neighbors in need?
Not only are millennials leading the charge in creating new forms of change making, they are also leading the charge in terms of creating new forms of life making—serious new forms of radical, whole-life discipleship. Church as Movement coauthor Dan White Jr. told me how a new church plant (Axiom) he is leading in Syracuse, New York, is enabling its young members to develop both a rule and rhythm of life which free them to be more present to God and others.
Helen, who is a high school basketball coach, started attending the class at Axiom. She discovered that she needed to cut back on her over-the-top (her words) social life to free up time to be present to three of the players on her team. The three students no longer have parents in their lives, so Helen meets with them weekly to help them make good decisions at this critical time in their development.
We Need Each Other In Order to Prepare for Change
As we race into a future filled with escalating opportunities, business as usual in our lives and congregations will no longer suffice. We need to join a new generation of change makers who are determined to create their best lives so they can join those on the innovative edge, those who are creating their best neighborhoods in response to a decade changing at warp speed.
Are you ready to Live Like You Give A Damn from 2017 t0 2027?
Are you ready to join this changemaking celebration?
*This post was originally written as a guest post for the V3 Movement Blog, a blog I contribute to monthly. Be sure to check them out!