Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Future is starting to bubble-over in my head

My incredible yet former boss, Brad Holaway, gave me an article from Forbes (September 2006) titled "The Cheap Revolution." 'Cheap Revolution' is a term coined by a Forbes writer (that's why almost no one else is using the phrase!) for the latest wave in technology that typically has to do with networking and/or the Internet. The article raised the temperature in my mind...

I'd rather think about the future

What I dream about, in a nutshell (note: every word is specifically used):
i) the Church, the people of God, would live in submission and reliance on the Holy Spirit

ii) the Church would shift towards every person living out what God has wired-into ("giftedness") or said-to ("listening to the Spirit") them

iii) the current Church would get ahead of this time of change and create a place, a space, that is fully-ready for the future when it/they/we get(s) there

Back to the article. The author rightly identifies what is happening but misses the trajectory of what is happening. He sees it as fully economic (specifically, people are going away from the big companies to cheap, fast, often free versions that do less but do them better - this is also sometimes called 'Web 2.0 initiative'). I see it as deconstruction. Most philosophical changes start in the arts and end in the masses and then finally in the social structures (which have traditionally been religious in the West). Here, this aspect of the Modern era is showing up differently than other shifts in the past because our economics, information, and "industry" are becoming one-and-the-same - and this new hybrid is being led by artists loosely called "programmers." See Google's lifespan so far as an example.

These artists are deconstructing what has been, even what they themselves have created. This is more than just economics, more than just competition. Here are a few quotes from the article:

  • "The last thing elite talent wants to do is work on making a 15-year-old software program into a 20-year-old software program." Scott Dietzen, former principal architect at BEA
  • "Startups always define the new era." William Coleman ("Bill" - "B" of BEA; around 2001 he was personally worth $900 million - he himself! He has since left and started a startup)
It was interesting to see how many statements/quotes in this article could easily, if taken out of context, sound like a quote from many of the church-planters I read or the Christians (even leaders) who are irritated with the way things are.

But even moreso. The guys being quoted spoke repeatedly that the form, the structure, the layout of the past generation of tech. companies is not the problem these companies now face. The first quote above (Scott) captured it: the problem is that everyone is required to maintain, nothing more than better what is. One more quote from William Coleman, "To survive, companies must undergo a transplant of corporate DNA, and few survive the surgery."

Suppose Coleman's right, startups define what's next. IF that is true, then it's not too hard to see what's next for the Church in the West: small, even house, local churches that subscribe to a wholly different set of values, needs, and beliefs.

Assuming Coleman's right, are we nothing short of fools if we simply point fingers and say "That's bad," distancing ourselves into what will become battle camps!?!? Not based on anything as grand as "spiritual" issues, this is simply a matter of social observation -- startups define what's next. Remember when every new church played acoustic or rock music, contrary to the churches of the day? So when was the last time a church ordered a set of pipes for its organ?

Worse still . . . Modernity is ending. In Mapping Postmodernism, Robert Greer correctly (I think) states that what we currently call "post-modern" is actually "hyper-modern." It's more Modernity taken to the next step. It's kind of like living with another family you really respect, like, admire, are in awe with. Stick around long enough (500 years in the case of Modernity) and you'll see its own uglinesses.

My proposal: draw some trajectories through what is currently being kept, challenged, and replaced to see if we can see what is coming up. Then start preparing a place, a space, for people for when they are done churning the waters (i.e the upheaval that will then lead to whatever comes after Modernity).

"... and few will survive the surgery." I hate this, but perhaps it is true. I'm not sure I'm willing to give up on the idea that what is cannot change into what will be good for tomorrow. I know some others, whom I respect deeply, aren't so sure.

Just in case, I'm starting a new idea: a wave inside the Church that will rise when what we currently have stops working. It would work like this, a coalition of people (not just leaders) who have in their mind to establish local churches that are specifically designed to be healthy for the citizens of the year 2030.


NBriggs said...

So how does one go about establishing a local church that is specifically designed to be healthy for the citizens of the year 2030?

David Malouf -- said...


Stay tuned to find out . . .

Actually that is what I will probably be posting on a bit more in the months to come. So, seriously, stay tuned to find out ;-)


tedw said...

I want to find out more also! I will stay tuned.