In my book, Ministry in Hard Times, I contrast the world that was with the emerging world by contrast the metaphors of National Park and Jungle. The world I was born into was like a National Park with lots of rules. The world I live in today is more like a Jungle with only one rule-the survival of the fittest- those who change the fastest with the least amount of angst will most likely thrive. The difference between the National Park world and the Jungle is the largest cultural shift since the printing press.
Two examples of how this affects the church.
In the National Park most people were driven by duty and guilt. They would go to church whether they wanted to because it was their duty and if they stayed home they felt guilty. Not so in the Jungle where there is little duty and no guilt. So, in the National Park world when a church was behind in its giving it would print it in the bulletin (it probably did this every week) and relied on its members to pony-up because it was their duty and they would feel guilty not doing their part.
But try this in the Jungle. When churches put in their bulletin how much behind they are their donors (not members) see a sinking ship and very few donors want to contribute to a sinking ship. Or, in the past when churches needed volunteers they would make a plea from the pulpit or newsletter and people would come forward out of duty and not wanting to feel guilty. Try that today and see where it gets you.
So what’s a church suppose to do if it needs money or volunteers?
In a world where duty and guilt no longer drive how people respond it is far better to appeal to how the giving of money or self will either bring joy to the giver or make a difference in the world. Instead of telling the congregation how badly you need money share stories with them every Sunday about how the church is changing the lives of people. Better yet have the people whose lives have been changed by the church give their testimony. Instead of making a plea for volunteers have a child or youth tell of how their life was changed becasue of the role modeling by their teacher or sponsor.
In the Jungle there aren’t “members” who are drive by duty and guilt. Instead there are “donors” who are driven by joy and fulfillment and making a difference in the world by giving either their money or time. If you would like to read more on this see Clif Christopher’s book, Whose Offering Plate is It?
Have a great new year trying to figure out which end is up in this upside down world.