The highly popular and recently concluded television series Longmire featured a dedicated and unflappable sheriff bent on maintaining law and order in the rugged terrain of Wyoming without the use of a technological staple—the cell phone. Walt Longmire represented that part of every generation who desperately holds on to the good old days while inevitably finding themselves being dragged kicking and screaming into the technological advances of the next.
The spirit of Walt Longmire lives on. The church has historically been challenged when facing inevitable change. When does she let go of the tired religious practices of yesteryear for new models of worship and ministry, and how does she move forward without compromising her substance and core values in the process? One thing is certain, today's leaders cannot afford to sit idly by and allow themselves to be engulfed in the tsunami of global change that is currently sweeping over the face of the earth. How the church conducts herself and navigates the seas of change could be the difference in effective, life-changing ministry or the lifeless practice of archaic and irrelevant religious practices.
While many changes await us in both the near and distant future, there are three trends that need your attention now. Again, the fact that technology has already changed the Church is nothing new. I'm talking about the rate of technological change and the implications for you and your ministry as well as the future face of the Church.
The Knowledge Doubling Curve
The idea known as the "knowledge doubling curve" first introduced by Buckminster Fuller in his 1981 book, Critical Path, revealed that until 1900, knowledge had doubled every 100 years or so. By the end of World War II, it was doubling every 25 years. Today's estimates indicate that human knowledge is now doubling every year and shows no signs of slowing down its exponential learning curve. Leaders who fail to stay abreast of the world around them will quickly find themselves irrelevant and ineffective. While you don't have to be an expert in all things, you do need to be aware of what is going on around you and to communicate to those you lead that you are in touch with the challenges that they are facing—an educated and astute leader has never been more critical.
The Always 'On' Generation
There is an entire generation currently on the ground that has entered a life of instant information, immediate gratification and social interaction on a worldwide scale. They have little understanding of what it was like when "face-to-face" was the standard means of communication. Ministry that is relying solely on the "gathering together of the saints" to properly lead and disciple others will quickly find that it will not only fall behind but will likely lose a significant portion of its following simply because it is not providing the content that people are looking for in the manner in which they wish to consume it. The church must always be open!
The Battle for the Mind
This battle is as old as time itself, but never has the war raged as intensely as it does today. The old adage "garbage in, garbage out" still holds true, but the volume of garbage has increased exponentially and might I say, become more "garbagey." The standard of biblical truth has been exchanged for a continual diet of false and perverse streaming content that is literally uncontainable. The standard of biblical truth is being swallowed alive by a cultural onslaught of relativism, humanism and moral depravity that is unprecedented. There must be a return to sound doctrine within our ministries and both the volume and availability of the message must be ratcheted up if the voice of culture is to be minimized in any way. This battle will not be won with laissez fare. The kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent must seize it by force.
Listen as Jessilyn Lancaster interviews Pastor Bobby Gruenewald about the church's relationship with technology and the internet.
Ron Luce is co-chair and director for Jesus Global Youth Day and founder of Generation Next, an initiative launched in 2016 to assist global leaders in engaging youth for the cause of Christ. Ron has dedicated his life to reaching, training and mobilizing young people for Christ.
Thousands of young people from around the world will be gathering in person, online, and in their own communities for Jesus Global Youth Day, August 8-10, 2019 to be held in Manila, Philippines. It will be massive. To find out more, visit Jesus Global Youth Day online.
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