Here is the text of my presentation at the Form of Government Pre-Assembly Presentation
Why this? Why now? Why is this important?
At the turn of the 19th century world’s most powerful and developed nation on earth was England.
At the turn of the 20th century, the world’s super powers were the former Soviet Union and the United States.
And who knows what the future will hold, but one thing we do know is that the world’s power and influence shifting again.
• The most populated country in the world is China with 1.3 billion people.
• India is not far behind with 1.1 billion people.
• The United States is a distant third with 300 million people.
That alone in itself doesn’t mean much. But listen to these figures.
• The top 25% of the Chinese with the highest IQ is greater than the population of the United States and Canada combined. And that means China has more honors students than we have students.
• Within our lifetime, China will become the number one English speaking nation in the world.
• In the next five minutes:
o 60 babies will be born in the United States
o 244 babies will be born in China
o 351 babies will be born in India.
o This happens every five minutes of every single day.
• According to the former Secretary of Education, Richard Riley – the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in the year 2010 did not exist in 2004.
o We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist
o Using technologies that haven’t yet been invented
o In order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet
Not only is the world and technology changing, it is changing our culture as well.
• Today, 1 out of every 8 couples getting married in the United States met online.
• As of today, there are over 140 million registered users on MySpace.
o If MySpace were a country, it would be the 10th most populated country in the world between Russia and Japan
• There are 2.7 billion searches performed on Google every month.
• There are more text messages being sent and received every day than there are people on the planet earth.
Not only is the world changing, but change is happening more rapidly than at any time in history. In fact, scientists say that change is happening exponentially. Here are some examples.
• There are about 540,000 words in the English language – about 5 times as many during the days of Shakespeare.
• More than 3,000 books are published daily.
• The Sunday morning edition of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in their entire lifetime in the 18th Century.
• It is estimated that 1.5 exabytes (1.5 x 1018th) of new information is generated each year.
• That is more information than the previous 5,000 years combined.
• And the amount of new technical information is doubling every year.
• This means that a freshman entering college this year, half of what they learn in their freshman year will be outdated by their third year in school.
Change is all around us. Change is everywhere.
• Science continues to change
• Education continues to change
• Technologies continue to change
• Medical science continues to change
About the only institution that has not changed over the last four centuries, it is the church in the western world. For the most part, the way we do worship, the way we do church is the same today as it was during the days of Christopher Columbus.
Leonard Sweet says, “In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don't change, you die. It's that simple. It's that scary.”
Kevin Harney says in his book Seismic Shifts, “If the local church refuses to change, it will die. And, this sad reality is being experienced all over the world. Churches that are stuck in the proverbial rut of sameness eventually find themselves closing their doors and never opening them again.”
Denominations didn’t always look as they do today. After WWII, before the advent of emails, faxes, and the internet, what was needed was for denominations to be the central hub of information and mission for the life of the church. So we built these gigantic organizations that have become our modern day denominations.
However, the world has changed.
I find Sally Morganthaller’s description helpful.
Denominations were cruising down a wide river. What was needed at that time were gigantic river boats with ball rooms, dining rooms, and stater rooms. So that’s what we did. However, in a post-modern, post-denominational, and post-Christian world we find ourselves in, the river has changed. We are no longer cruising down a placid wide river but a class 5 rapid. And what is needed in a post-modern, post-denominational, post-Christian world are kayaks that can navigate the rapids.
Denominations as we know it, unless they change, will find itself totally irrelevant and broken.
What you have before you is our effort to respond to the reality of the changing world we live in.