Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How many recessions are there in 2009?

As I read books and blogs, listen to people and podcasts, think about current and future times, watch activities in North America and elsewhere...

I am concluding that the Church in the U.S. is in a recession. God is moving mightily, vastly, and obviously in the Southern Hemisphere and/or the Eastern Hemisphere right now (2000 to present 2009). While there is much talk and desire for God's movement here in the West (e.g. the multitude of new 'movements', 'returns', and organic networks), I would contend that it's not really happening like it did (?) here and is (!) elsewhere. And I'm in-network with many of those working to see it happen.

Personal opinion, I think we are in a "spiritual correction" that is parallel to the financial "corrections" we have seen over the last few years. We built an inflated, less-than-actual 'Christianity' in the West and now it's not working out to be what it claimed. Possible causes, as I see it include:
- New ideas (parallel to new markets)
- 3rd and 4th generation 'Christians' being exposed to other Christians around the world via media(s) (parallel to the idea of 'the informed customer')
- the eventual-but-certain demise of the self-centered version of Christ Followers [pun intended] (parallel to consumer reporting)
- [insert your observation here by using the Comment feature of this blog!]

Recession brings options: push even harder using current methods (or values or competencies or _______) until the recession ends or resources stop, downsize, invest in deeping what is, panic, do something else altogether and wish for better days gone by, get pummeled by market and/or competition and die out.

I would like to suggest that the Church has gotten away from deliberate relationships. We have continued to diminish our deep relationships between fellow Christians so that the Body and Family metaphors of the Bible are now more like social clubs or Facebook groups. We have shrunk our concept of a local church to mirror an affiliation with a political party (increased activity based on periodic activity). We are certainly not known for bringing the Love of God Himself to our neighbors much less the needy (vs. the reputation of the Church the first few hundred years, for example). We encourage a "personal relationship with Jesus" but never get back to Him.

So we throw up 'alternative' movements, we talk about "Change" (a la Obama), we throw money around the world (seriously, how many more times do we have to hear about how easy it would be to end ____ -- for all the money I personally know that people and organizations have 'sent', I still hear little to nothing about change. Perhaps we aren't dealing with the root problems!)... just like our political life. What a waste.

Perhaps it's time to invest deeply, like Singapore Airlines, Amazon, and numerous others who don't talk much during recessions but spend money, time, energy on that which has only long-term payoff (and no immediate payoff - crazy!).

What if we...

  • redid how Children are taught and/or involved in the Real life of God's People
  • created leadership communities inside a local church that include all who are leaders (in particular, young leaders - high school through 90's)
  • invested in mastering/harnessing new mediums of communication so that content isn't bound by the restrictions of one or two
  • chose involvement in 'Spiritual' activity as a way for people to enter into a life with God instead of reserving it for those who have already mastered(?!?) it
  • choose to be not just transparent but outright vulnerable with fellow brothers and sisters, even if it means we might get burned by them - what if we chose to need them
  • saw each other's passions as under our deep, personal care - and left our passions up to their care
  • met and engaged in the lives of our neighbors (the people living within a stone's throw from my quickly closing garage door) -- taking care of those we have direct contact with
    - or co-workers, bosses, subordinates
  • met and engaged our brothers' and sisters' neighbors, too -- taking care of those in direct contact with those we are in direct contact with

What if we saw the Kingdom of God as a slow moving, all-encompasing bacteria that eventually takes over the entire petrie dish leaving self-replicating cells all the while? What if instead of trying to convince others to take huge jumps, we simply brought local humans along on our own journies as God's clay? What if we began to live as if vital-connection to others is equally important as righteous living? What if we stopped being soley pragmatic about the next 50 years and started thinking, "Slow and steady wins the race..." and accomplishes much along the way.

What if we invested deep into people. All people.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Hm. Must chew on this abit. Great Post.