Monday, December 2, 2013

Who's left behind?

Change doesn't happen at a uniform pace.   
Things change, and it's hard to keep up.  A sudden blip in this field or that can spill down into unexpected change.  (Data mining and the NSA come to mind.)

Laggards when it comes to change,
governments and churches are
often the last to know and adapt.
Governments historically lag far behind key change points.  Laws and law makers scramble to understand.  Privacy disappeared before the overseers could rein in the abusers with their advanced capabilities.  Microsoft and Twitter ramp up protections against NSA hacking.  The SEC is scrambling to find out how the world economy was taken to the brink by 'bankers'.

As change rushes by, teachers scramble to understand the culture they serve.  Married couples are now less than half of our households, businesses scramble to catch up with the new process models. Amazon swept up a huge constituency before mainstream retailers caught on. No contest; yet.  Local retailers scramble to join the broad-based competition for customers. Now you can shop online at a dozen car dealerships and have them compete against each other for pricing.

Information proliferation and social change have reshaped the meaning of community and relationship.  High school students live in a world their parents don't understand.

'Google time' is what they call those interludes when you're thinking your way through from this task to that.  Open source, open forum, open information on any subject is at our fingertips.  Wikipedia outstripped Britannica long ago.

The traditional church sings old hymns and follows an order of service unchanged in half a century.  Modernization attempts, putting songs up on a screen and tweeting members, seem lame to the under 40 folks.

Hillsong United
... a rather off-the-wall leap into
non-traditional church.
So what are they, the emerging culture, doing with their faith and time?  A group of young mothers gather to encourage each other through the furor of raising children today.  They talk about what works, what they're aiming for in their children's lives.  And they pray fervently for grace and wisdom.  It's real for them.

Hillsong explodes; “Our singular, all-consuming passion is to build God's Church and Kingdom on the earth, and see everyday people released into their purpose and calling."

A twenty-something girl invites a couple of guys from work to go to her non-standard but semi-mainline church; green-o-maximo guys.  They had a ball; it wasn't a typical service; more of a 'meet God and see what he has to say' sort of occasion.  They were bubbling with enthusiasm as they got introduced around, and they left encouraged.

In eastern Africa with skipped-step changes, folks I know live in handmade huts of stone and clay with straw roofing.  They have cell phones.  And MPESA accounts to pay with.  They've skipped the intervening steps of telephone lines and poles, of bank cards, and they chat with friends ... anywhere in the world.

Fellowship in Kenya, it's the real thing.
In the developing world, church is real for many families and their young people; not a club or a meeting or a box being checked as it has become for much of the developed world.  If it doesn't make a difference, they don't have time or energy to waste pretending.  They work together and help each other.

Western Africa in the mountains, a Catholic
youth group helps the community rebuild
their crop areas.
On an African mountainside, I met a group of young folks from the local church.  They were renovating the garden areas for a small community.  They wanted to make a difference.

As I drove up to a friends home in a remote village in western Africa, in the shade under the house-on-stilts, two ladies sat and read the bible together and prayed for their children.  Give us today, bread, and deliver us from the evil we see every day.  It's real for them.  Is it real for us?  Tell the truth.

Time for us to change?  We change continually, or what we do becomes perhaps less relevant, less useful, or just ... less.

Skip a step or two?  Dump the process?  Start over from scratch?  Got a vision?
Leap out there, froggie!