Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Communication, Collaboration & Networks

The report of the LIFT Task Force includes a section called "Communication, Collaboration and Networks." I was given the opportunity to write this section. Though it's been edited to fit the structure of the final LIFT report, I thought I'd post the original version.

“The way we connect with one another and with the institutions in our lives is evolving. There is an erosion of trust in authority, a decentralizing of power and at the same time, perhaps, a greater faith in one another.
Because of airplanes and telephones and now social media, human beings touch the lives of vastly more people than did our ancestors, who might have encountered only 150 people in their lifetime. Now the possibility of connection is accelerating at an extraordinary pace. As the great biologist E.O. Wilson says, ‘we're in uncharted territory.’” [1]

The rapid rate of change in society impacts our ministries in significant ways.  The Internet is altering human behavior like nothing since the printing press.  The fastest growing faith group is those who are "spiritual but not religious."  Where is the church in all of this?  What is our witness to the world?  What is God calling us to be and do in the future?  What changes are needed in order to make God's call a reality?
Changes in technology and communication have moved organizations from institutional structures to network structures.  [2]  One of the challenges for the church is that the larger cultural shift from institutional models to network models isn't fully realized yet.  Not everyone is convinced that networks are a good thing.  In some cases, these people will fight to preserve the structure they were raised with or were instrumental in creating.

The reality is that people make choices. The more we can engage in learning and doing – whether in worship, in serving or in prayer, the more vibrant will be our work and our faith.  
Imagine the possibilities if the the ELCA...
  • Invited its members with a strategic communications background to create a high-touch, high-tech plan that incorporates methods and tools to connect with every aspect of the eco-system.
  • Invited members to use their evangelical, missional imagination to embrace evolving and emerging forms of communication in their local context.
  • Established a nimble denominational structure that gleaned from open-source, wiki, and Web 2.0 pedagogies to be the church in a rapidly changing world.

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