Disruptions and new opportunities for mission

Mobility, communities and the sharing economy

“Disruption, unsettling the status quo and replacing it with a better alternative, is in the Christian DNA. Jesus disrupted the lives of 12 men and called them to follow him. He introduced the Kingdom of God, a counter-cultural kingdom with values that are opposite to the world's power systems. So I wonder, why is the Church not more on the forefront of technological, economic and societal innovation and change?”

This question was raised by Christian Trendwatcher's Marc van der Woude at an Indigitous conference in Amsterdam. Indigitous is a collaborative network of missions organizations that are passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies.

“The rise of the internet has been the most revolutionary development of the past 20 years,” Van der Woude said. “It shifted power to the people. Today, anyone with internet access can publish and have a voice, open up a shop and sell products, hire a freelancer in another part of the world, listen to music or watch movies on demand 24-7, cut out the middle man in the product or services chain, rent out his house or car, have access to university-level education, manufacture in 3D, raise money for their cause globally, and start a church or a community without any pastor, denomination or church building involved.”

“The irony is that the internet has been discipling the church, not the other way around. The internet encourages churches let go of centralized thinking, monoculture, the idea that one size (or one theological perspective) fits all.” Then, provokingly: “Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the internet, has done more for our mission than the whole church growth movement combined. Because we’re now rediscovering the power of decentralized movements.”

Van der Woude mentioned three digital and social disruptions that create new opportunities for mission:

1) Mobility

“I believe God calls the church to become mobile again. Realize that Jesus started a mobile ministry, he travelled around impacting people’s daily lives. For the mobilisation of the church we need ‘mobile-first’ strategies. Church is wherever the Christians are throughout the week. And as we have our mobile phones with us all the time, it makes sense to use them for evangelism, discipleship, forming communities, and engaging with God’s mission in this world. Imagine how mobile technologies can help catalyze Kingdom movements. And not just mobile phones, also the emerging wave of mobility: wearables, drivables, flyables and scannables.”

2) Communities

“We live in the age of communities or ‘tribes’. Therefore we need community-focused strategies. Many of our evangelistic approaches are focused on the salvation of individuals, bringing people into a relationship with Christ. While this is good as such, as a strategy it’s too limited. We need to take a more holistic (or apostolic) approach, focused on opening up whole communities for the gospel and addressing people’s deepest felt needs. This could be employment, literacy, family reconciliation, emancipation in society. The church has to become ‘responsive’ and be all things to all people. Where are the Christians who engage with the big global challenges of our time? Think of food, energy, reorganizing society, government, family life and health?”

3) Sharing Economy

“The first Christians had everything in common, they freely shared the resources they had been given. Today, we see a global movement of people discovering that sharing makes a lot of sense. Sharing is becoming an economy in itself. But here also I wonder: why is the Church with it’s value of sharing, not more on the forefront? Innovators in liberal Amsterdam want to make this city the first ‘shareable city’ in the world. What if churches would decide to become the first shareable communities in the city? What if all Christians would share their resources - cars, church buildings, surplus rooms, tools, knowledge - with others and serve their communities?”

Source: Joel News