Church Reimaged and Reinvented: Are you prepared?

Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear regarding the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, in that case, to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?” – Irenaeus of Lyons.

 We know from Pentecost going forward, the apostles and disciples of Jesus didn’t lock themselves up in a room praying.  No, they went out into the world proclaiming the good news.  They accepted and took all the risk necessary to embrace the new reinvented and reimaged church of their day.  Reinvented and Reimaged from Judaism and the Diaspora along with various forms of Greek religions.

If we as a missional church are to leave the comforts of our “upper room” and venture out, we need to engage in that conversation about a reimagined and reinvented proactively.

 By now most of us who have been in the “mission” for X plus years, we have read all the playbooks on reinventing your church, we have learned from Alan J. Roxburgh, Mark Driscoll, Alan Hirsch, Ed Stetzer, Craig Van Gelder and many others the tools of the trade in church planting and going out and making disciples of the Lord.

 What they wrote is correct.  These great thinkers have moved us to new ways of thinking about our church, a church regardless of your denomination and have encouraged us to create improvements never imagined before and we have witnessed the results.

 The Patristic Father Polycarp said, “Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd and their false teachings, and turn back to the word delivered to us from the beginning.”

A missional church must weave the strategies of the Patristics, the apostolic church into one seamless garment to survive and grow in the modern world.  What makes some congregations successful in their missional efforts quicker than others?  The rate of change and the acceptance of evolution of that change. The difference is nothing new.  When we confront change, we get a pit in our stomach and dig our heels in deep.  Fear of the unknown takes over.  This is especially true when we are faced with the change in our world of religion.  Why?  For most of us “religion” is the expression of our “belief” system.   We struggle with the concept of Theology/Belief/Religion as being separate but collaborative in our quest to Meet the living God. (more on that topic for a future musing)

 The adoption of the technology is speeding the struggle along at a faster pace than what we desire, and technology is assisting us in understanding and embracing the rate of change in bringing about the mission of God in the modern world.  I would argue that we need to develop a mindset that we must always follow a process of continual reinvention which becomes a process of on-going improvement as human beings in the formation and mission of God.  This is no different from what we see in the writings of the early church/patristic fathers, they reimagined and reinvested with the “technologies” of their day.  The means to implement and support the operations of the missional church are various for every generation and with the rapid pace of technology the rate of change will be multiple times for a single age or generation.  Change is adopted when we grab hold of the techniques of our modern world, a comprehensive understanding of the teachings of Jesus and the struggles, successes, and joy the early church experienced in the formation of the mission of God in their period of history.  Think about how amazing all this is; It all started with Pentecost.  The Spirit of Pentecost that allowed the apostles to speak in “tongues” is the same Spirit that works through the technologies of our modern world.

Organizations, judicatory’s, churches, congregations need to become “opportunistic”  to the Spirit working through our ability to use technologies as they evolve through their various technological evolutions.  What is required of our leaders is a dynamic and visionary mindset of change.  Change requires the involvement of technology in the mission strategy to be active.

For the first time since the dawn of the internet, technology infrastructure has become cost-effective and global for churches.  The technologies of the Fourth and Fifth industrial evolutions are the catalyst of change in our mission and our relationships with our each other.   Breakthroughs in some fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, The Internet of Things, 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles all play a role in bringing about the mission of God in the modern world. We are witnessing a new world of telecommunications, a world that becomes “FLAT” and all “communications” occur via the mobile Internet.  Think of the implications for church planting when we realize every corner of the Earth (96.8 %) is covered by an Internet cellular signal 7X24.  Our intranets will have to adapt to the new flexible standard architecture of the internet so that churches can easily incorporate the latest technologies and be able to maintain our mission and expand our church planting.

The information technologies of congregations, judicatory’s, and mega-churches can no longer be static as they were in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it is incredible how many judicatory’s and mega-churches today have siloed information technology, and their strategies are immobile and unable to accommodate a dynamic changing environment.

 Congregations, judicatory’s, and mega-churches that choose to evolve through the next iterations of change will achieve rapid acceptance from multiple generations and not just the millennials.  Those who adopt will outpace their church planting efforts just as did the apostles and disciples from Pentecost going forward.

If you do not see these technologies in your future, your mission will have none.  If you do not adopt the technologies of the Fourth and Fifth industrial evolutions, you will severely handicap your purpose, your church planting efforts and your ability to spread the message of the Gospel.  The technologies of the Fourth and Fifth industrial evolutions are “democratizing” access to your church, your mission, and the Missio Dei.

 Look around at your current strategies, your plans, in your missional efforts, church planting efforts, and technology, are you driving change in your organization, your congregation, your judicatory? Or are you a passenger in the back set hoping you arrive at your destination in one piece?  Or as we say in Texas, are you that armadillo upside down on the side of the road?


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