Monday, May 5, 2008

The Future

At the conference last week in Indianapolis, Rex Miller gave a keynote address.  Rex Miller is a "futurist" and the author of a book called The Millennium Matrix.  In the book  he explains how the major technology or medium of the day influenced life and the church. 

According to Miller we have moved from oral transmission and the printing press, to the Internet.  Those born before 1992 are considered "Digital Immigrants"; that is to say that those born after 1992 have existed entirely within a world influenced by the Internet.  According to Rex Miller this new technology will cause a drastic change in society.  Because of this, Miller suggests that businesses, organizations, the government and the church need to  adjust the way things are done to ensure survivability and efficacy.

He explained that the current model for businesses and churches is "attractional" in nature.  He describes the model as being and effort by churches (and organizations) to put on a bigger, better "show" to attract people to the building.  This is in contrast to what he calls the "engagement model."  The "engagement model" focuses on interaction and relationships.  He points out that if society is indeed heading towards a more interactive and relational structure that investing in massive infrastructures that require weekly income is dangerous.

The four of us attending the conference discussed these ideas and decided that we could apply some of Miller's advice.  Firstly, we all agreed that we are in a society where the "attractional" model is still viable and that CBC could be and should be doing a better job at it.  Secondly, we agreed that we need to prepare for and develop programs that fit into the "engagement model."  Thirdly, we reiterated that ultimately, no matter what you name things, people still have to love their neighbors.

Finally, here are some practical things that I think should happen:

-Regular meetings to discuss ministries, vision, effectiveness, brainstorm new things

-Website redesign, including incorporating current social networking technologies, increased communication

-Church-wide small groups


Matt Emerson said...

Hey guys,
I'm enjoying reading your blog! Chad has been one of my best friends since 6th grade, so that's how I found out about it. Anyway, it looks like you are all really thinking through some important issues concerning the church. I recently read Mark Dever's "The Deliberate Church" and it is really helpful as far as what ya'll are trying to do. I highly recommend it, and if you decide to read it I hope it helps!

Chad said...

Pffft. We've been friends since birth, we just didn't know each other.
I didn't know you were actually reading it! haha - Thanks for posting, and feel free to interject any thoughts.
Mark Dever wrote "9 Marks Of A Healthy Church" too, didn't he? I have that on my shelf, but never got around to reading it. I hear it's good, and both of those books are probably really helpful for what we're trying to do.

matt emerson said...

Ya, Hans and Franz were separated at birth!

yes, 9 Marks is also a great book, and helps with laying the foundations of a church. Deliberate Church goes into how to implement those foundations in weekly meetings, activities, etc.

Also, 9 Marks has a website with really good resources on it.

Terry said...

not sure I agree with his term of digital immigrants as being those born before 1992. Probably the better term is digital pioneers much like the 1st generation of americans who developed the constitution and started living under that new regime. Those who came after have no memory of the colonies or articles of confederation. They have no other memory. I guess you can call those after 1992 digital natives. I understand what he's trying to say tho. Think of my grandmother, who is still living and what she saw: WWI, WWII, the automobile replacing the horse; airplanes; man on the moon; computers; 1st and 2nd Gulf war; etc. The issue is really whether or not they have adapted to the technology or sat back and let it pass them by. The digital natives could find themselves in a quandary if an EMP burst wiped out all computers and circuits. Could they survive and know how to make food without a microwave? something to think about.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

I have a concern with Mark Dever's principle that "the church needs to adjust the way things are done to ensure survivability and efficacy." What makes the church relevant is the same age-old problem that has made the church relevant for a millenium. Man is sinful, and can only restore his relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. THIS is what makes, and will continue to make, the church relevant and effective. We offer, or should offer, true relationships with others and Jesus Christ.

Relationships, I think we have all agreed on throughout this blog, is what church is all about. This is a problem I have with the "attractional" style Dever mentioned. People should be coming to church excited due to a current and growing relationship with Christ and with others. If people are only coming to church because of a good show, I would be concerned that, perhaps, the church is not doing enough to foster the relationships withing the church. I agree with Dever in moving towards the relational style.

While I always initially balk at "making the church more relevant and attractive" because I think it can lead down some dangerous paths, I do believe that we need to show wisdom in utilizing all options available to reach the lost. We would be foolish and poor stewards not to do so. A verse in Ecclesiastes says "Do not say the older days were better than these, for it is not wise to say such things." The essence of humanity has not changed, as the essence of the church should not change. But we should never argue tradition.

I would like to postulate a picture of this principal that I hope will give you an idea of what I mean. We, as the church, write a letter to the unchurched. The message in the letter is the gospel. 200 years ago, we sent the letter by courier, 150 years ago, the pony express, 100 years ago, by train, 50 years ago, by plane, and today, by email. Each one sent more quickly then the previous ones. The message within the letter should stay the same, but we would be foolish not take advantage of newer and better ways of getting the letter to where it needs to go. Let's not get stuck sending the message by pony express, but we also must not send anything but the genuine article by email.