“The internet is 15 years old, it hasn’t even had sex yet” – Gary Vaynerchuk (Le Web, December 18, 2009)
In 2009, at a real bottomed out low-point for me professionally, I came across this video and this book by Gary Vaynerchuk. Now, take away the enormous amount of colorful expletive language (I posted the censored version) and underneath it, I found some real genius and some God-given inspiration. His New York city gumption certainly resonates with the irish-philly boy in myself. I don’t pretend to fit the mold of the conservative churchman, but I also don’t promote rebellion for rebellion-sake, that’s often shallow and unprofitable. I am interested in a proper rebellion, one that is for the healing of the nations. (Ezekiel 47)
I see great parallels between the potential of social media for your voice/business/organization and the ‘open source’ theory proposed by Cory Doctorow in Content. If you have a business idea, if you have an organization you want to promote, if you have a cause you want to voice: in today’s/tomorrow’s world, it can’t be done without a real comittment to understanding the open source and exponential impact of the internet.
One of the main reasons I chose GFU’s DMin in Global Missional Leadership was because it was pushing the boundary for using social media and open sourcing it’s content through the blog world. This shows a real understanding of how networks and conversations happen in the world of the future/present. I am openly fascinated with the missional potential of open-soure information attached to social-media relationship networking for the future. I see amazing potential in the exponential nature of the connections for the call and response to a Kingdom-centered life.
Doctorow says, “Our ability to make our art (authors) is inextricably linked with the billions of Internet users who use the network to talk about their lives.” (p.70) Doctorow is in the habit of giving away digital copies of his books to those who wouldn’t buy it otherwise. He believes that this ‘open handed’ practice actually gains him future consumers. “Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience.” (p. 71) If you care more about your message/your voice/your art than you do credit or immediate sales, then you must understand the genius in this ‘open source’ practice. This is not micro-thinking, this is Macro. What your real mission/passion is will dictate whether you push for micro-results or open up for a dangerous macro tipping-point. As a missional leader, I’m somewhat obsessed with that macro-tipping point, it’s what I pay attention to.
So, consider me a voice and a proponent for a future of ‘open source’ ministry when it comes to church. I think, if we care about our faith message, if we are devoted to the missional impact of getting it ‘out there’, then being a church without walls is embracing an open source voice to our teaching and relating. John Wesley said, “the world is my parish”. If he lived in 2011, would he be an avid blogger and user of social media? I think if he were alive, he’d say he would have preferred facebook and twitter over long horseback rides in the cold rain from town to town to get his passionate message out. I don’t think it’s our job to control what happens after the proclamation of our voice has left our mouths or our typing fingertips. Misperceptions and being taken out of context can happen in real time and in the same room in the same way it can happen in an internet cafe thousands of miles from your ‘send’ button. Doctorow adds, “Complex ecosystems are influenced, not controlled.” (p. 190) Is our job to control or to proclaim? Do we want to influence, or do we want to own the process? The leader/proclaimer of the future will see what they do as more art than science, the mystery of it all will replace the security of the corporate strategies.
I am most concerned about the church and I worry about her future, particularly in my US context. We seem to be headed towards a world Recession economically that may very well define what ministry will look like for the next 10-20 years or more. In the consumer age, we created churches/ministries with crippling overheads that may or may not survive the transition. Financial debt and senses of entitlements may die a slow death, or at least a severe correction. I foresee a period of grieving and lament for the American church and that is understandable and quite natural. If our comforts are taken away, adjustments will hurt.
My million dollar question at that point is “now what”? Will we fall into a crippling lament of inactivity of what Doctorow refers to as ‘Lapsarianism’?
The idea of a paradise lost, a fall from grace that makes each year worse than the last – is the predominant future feeling for many people. It’s easy to see why: an imperfectly remembered golden childhood gives way to the worries of adulthood and physical senescence. Surely the world is getting worse: nothing tastes as good as it did when we were six, everything hurts all the time, and our matured gonads drive us into frenzies of bizarre, self-destructive behavior. (p. 141)
My hope is that after lament, we will be filled with new found inspiration to be creative and look for inexpensive ways to continue to be church and proclaim the truth of our Gospel and shout the hope of a sure Kingdom to a world of torrential loss of securities. My hope is that we will act with the kind of inner-city gumption of Vaynerchuk, we will “shut up and get back to work”! It may be in this very time that the internet is opening us for a new opportunity as the church to CRUSH IT!