The last twenty years of North American culture has been moving from what I call a National Park world to a world that can only be described as a Jungle.
Consider the following comparisons:
• Are neatly laid out
• Predictable and slow to change
• Warn you about dangers animals
• Provide adequate shelter
• National parks change very slowly
• You are entitled to the experience
• National Parks can be traveled alone
• You don’t need a compass or GPS
• When you look up you can see the horizon
• No problem seeing the horizon
• You don’t need a compass
• There are no bottom lines
• People aren’t totally broken
• Christianity is King and Queen
• Nothing is neatly laid out
• Nothing is predictable and changes are fast
• Predators are everywhere
• You are on your own for shelter
• Changes from day to day
• You’re not entitled to be there
• No one goes into the Jungle alone
• You have to have a compass or GPS
• When you look up you cant see the sky much less the horizon
• Most people are basically broken
• Values no longer are ultimate or universal
• There is no bottom line
• Christianity is nobody to the culture
The journey from the National Park into the jungle will change most things from now on. Having a firm grasp on the key leverage pieces to the future is incredibly important. So here goes.
Assuming you have your DNA and spiritual life underway in your church, there are three things that must occur in the 21st century jungle to cause a church to flourish. Here they are
First, We all know the first one is indigenous worship. But just what does that mean in the jungle. It sure doesn’t mean Praise music anymore. Indigenous worship must be in the language, technology, and culture of the people you are trying to reach. So, if we are truly in the jungle then the following applies.
1. If it isn’t hard rock it probably won’t feed people much past the next five years.
2. If it doesn’t wow people it probably won’t have much retention.
3. If it isn’t loud it probably won’t motivate and if the teaching isn’t basic and down to earth, it probably won’t grow people. (I know the emergent folks don’t always feel this way, but remember I don’t think they will be a major player in the new world, at least not for the next 30-50 years. For now they will be only one nitch among many.)
4. These services will not be as linear as in the past and they will be different from week to week which means the need for stage props and setup and tear down teams.
5. Teaching and music are no longer THE important elements; now you have to add ambiance, fun, and the unusual. The more kids play video games the harder it will be to provide them a worship setting where they can experience faith.
Second, a children’s ministry that is designed first:to provide atmosphere, second to provide fun, and third to help children grow in their relationship with Jesus rather than God or Christ. This means the classroom and printed curriculum are out and the large venue and video is in. It also means fewer teachers and a need for some degree of competent acting on the part of the leaders of the children’s ministry. So instead of Sunday School it is children’s worship designed for children both to worship and to learn. You can see some of these examples on our website under Free Resources, FAQA, children. The more kids play video games the harder it will be to disciple them at church without embracing their culture.
Third, intimate settings/groupings will be essential for the 21st century person to find their true destiny. This could mean small groups, ministry teams, coffee house environments, missionary journeys, market place ministries, you name it. I think it will be far more eclectic in ten years than it is right now. It would be more eclectic today if small groups weren’t working so well that churches don’t feel like experimenting beyond what they know is working.
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