Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet Ideas

Leonard Sweet recently spoke with the LIFT Task Force, offering his thoughts on sociology and ecclesiology.  I took several notes, which I have offered below.  It's important to note that these are my notes, and not a verbatim recreating of Len's comments.  Many of his talking points can be found in the archives of his podcast, Napkin Scribbles.  I commend them to your ears.


Martin Luther King taught a course on Social Philosophy – had only 8 students
Everyone else at Morehouse Bible College “missed their moment”

What is our "moment" today?  Does the ELCA get to wear the IWT button, or an MIA button?
(IWT – I Was There     MIA – Mission In Action)

Two Problems
  1. Sociographic -- We have not claimed the moment that God has given us
  2. Christographic – we don’t know what to “lift” up

It’s in our Lutheran DNA to create revolutions.

The invention of the cell phone in 1973 created two groups
     “Immigrants” – born before 1973   
     “Natives” – born after 1973

We are in a TGIF (Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook) world; no longer a Guttenberg world.

2/3 of the world’s population is connected via cell phone
     - It’s not just western, educated, industrial, democratic that use this technology

You don’t get to pick your moment – and the church is missing its moment

Are we going to claim, for the sake of the gospel, the revolution that is taking place in our world?

The bell-curve is no longer the normal distribution of society.  It’s upside-down (looks like a well-curve)

The world is simultaneously becoming more local/tribal and more global/universal

 - Previous Model:  Rural --> Small Towns --> Urban --> Suburban
 - Since 1980s:  People are wanting to live in Small Towns --> Rural --> Urban --> Suburban (last)

People want to be part of an authentic community

People want to walk to church / store / school

We are moving away from “parking lot churches” to “pedestrian churches”

The new standard of excellence is not the quality of the performance but the quality (diversity?) of the participation

The interface that connects with
     Guttenberg Culture --> Rational ~ Linear ~ Performance ~ Principals ~
     TGIF Culture --> Experiental ~ Participatory & Interactive ~ Image & Story ~ Connections & Relationships

We are not a concert culture, we are a karaoke culture

The interface will only last for another 20 years

The worst crisis any species can have is a reproduction crisis


The “operating system” of the Christian faith:
     Mission --> go into all the world
·       How do we re-focus our congregations
·       We are presently more in the business of “come” than “go”
     Relational --> make disciples of Jesus Christ
·       Christianity is the only group that defines “truth” as a person
·       Jesus says follow me…and my actions (not my teachings, sound bites, principals)
·       We need to be in the business of showing love of Christ through relationships
     Incarnational --> be the gospel in all of the world
·       Christianity spreads itself as a seed, not a “potted plant”
·       Accompaniment

The church needs a “re-boot” – get everyone on the same “operating system”

Is the Christian universe really a you-niverse?

If FOOTBALL is the metaphor for the church, we need to move from defense to offense…and not spend too much time in the huddle.

A move toward a centralized church is a move away from Jesus (who always is found in the margins)

What are the administrative structures required for a TGIF world?

We are a church that has memorized VERSES and not STORIES.  We need to get back to telling stories.


  1. Hey, can you comment on the process of looking at the scenarios? How many? What did they look like? Any recurring themes?

    Also, what's up with the white privilege and patriarchy tweet? Way too intriguing to just let pass.

  2. Mackenzie,

    I missed the LIFT conversation about the scenarios, as I had to hurry back to Des Moines for worship. The task force will be spending the next few weeks analyzing the 100+ scenarios and trying to extract 3-5 main themes from each. This is big process; one that I'm excited to analyze.

    The white privilege / patriarchy tweet came after a frustrating conversation in which two female friends tried to convince me that "success" I achieve in life comes at the expense of women and people of color, because I am a white male. I adamantly disagreed.


Thank you for taking the time to be a part of "koinonia"