Sunday, July 04, 2010

Mission is Messy

In an article entitled Why we must shift our attention from ‘save newspapers’ to ‘save society’ by Clay Shirky, he notes that when Guttenberg invented the printing press, the results were initially chaotic...
“Only in retrospect were experiments undertaken during the wrenching transition to print revealed to be turning points.....That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent in the moment; big changes stall, small changes spread. Ancient social bargains, once disrupted, can be neither mended nor quickly replaced, since any such bargain takes decades to solidify…
“And so it is today. When people demand to know how we are going to replace [all kinds of things- add your favourite institution here] .. they are demanding to be told that the old systems will not break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.
“There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.....The future is already here. It just isn’t evenly distributed.”

Why have I headed this post 'Mission is Messy?' Because what Shirky discusses is very similar to the way mission works, the way the 'emerging' church works (and you can think of 'emerging' in any way you like), and even the way a person converted from the old life into a Christ-life 'works'. Though the article focuses on the on-going crisis seen in the newspaper industry, it has resonances far beyond that.

Thanks to Len Hjalmarson for bringing this to our attention.

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