Last week in the UK a programme was broadcast on BBC2 called ‘How Facebook Changed the World’. It investigated and charted how social networking underpinned the revolutions and uprisings that have become known as the ‘Arab Spring’. The ability for young men and women to circulate information about the injustices they witnessed, galvanise support and communicate the whereabouts of demonstrations enabled a swift and effective liberation movement of like-minded people, particularly in the initial nations such as Tunisia and Egypt.
This week-end I was invited to share a story at a conference called Future Church. Organised by the Northumbria Community and the Anabaptist Network it wanted to explore the factors that will be impacting church in 20 years time. In part of my story I imagined how church might look with two further decades of social media behind it. Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson in their recent book On the Verge which calls itself ‘a journey into the apostolic future of the church’ state that ‘the digital era, with the associated network thinking and acting, sets us up to experience movement again in a significant way.’ (p32)
We talk with longing in our hearts about church as a movement rather than an institution but I do wonder how many of us mainstream church-type people are ready for or indeed would welcome such a spontaneous and seemingly out of control movement of Jesus followers – just regular people trying to peacefully do what Jesus would do – a ‘Jesus Spring’ if you like!
Hirsch and Ferguson go on to say that ‘Christianity is designed to be a people’s liberation movement, a social force, a viral idea passing from person to person through the medium of gospel and discipleship, creating gospel communities in its wake.’ This week I find myself asking what type of leadership we need to begin practising that could facilitate, release and cope with mass levels of disorganised but holy Jesus chaos.
In my story I included this rather wonderful ‘parable for a church tucked up in bed’, written by my friends Matt & Juls Hollidge at Kore. After 2000 years of packaging and controlling the gospel I wonder how we as leaders can keep the focus on the Wild Thing! JK