Coming full circle, I’ve seen a fair number of religious folk responding to What Would Google Do? and wondering what its laws and lessons mean for their churches. What would, uh, Jesus do?
Ron Smith, pastor of a church in San Diego, took my rules about the new ethic and reinterpreted them biblically. The gospel according to Google:
Make mistakes well. As I write my Doctorate I am learning that one of the most detestable things about the church is hypocrisy. When we as “believers” make a mistake we should admit it. Admitting errors makes you believable.
Life is beta. Life is a test. We, Christians, of all people should know this one. Life is dress rehearsal, quit acting like you have it figured out. Marrissa Mayer, VP of Google stated, “Innovation, not instant perfect perfection.” That should be our message. Sanctification, not perfection. I have not arrived. I am still learning about faith, life, marriage, hope, joy, peace, love. Just when I think I have mastered the fruit thing, I find myself out of season. Then I have to wait for the next growth opportunity to sprout fruit.
Be Honest. No comment on this one. Tell the truth!
Be transparent. Admittedly I was hesistant to blog, Twitter or Facebook. I mean how far do you go telling everybody exactly what you are doing at every moment and how long can we post the most creative stuff for the social platform world to be amazed. Well, soon I learned that all knowledge may be helpful but it may not be appropriate. Point: Let people know you struggle, hurt, or that you just don’t have it all together. Let people know you are happy, full of joy, excited and ready to tackle the world.
Collaborate. The beauty of the body is the body working together. Thank you Lord my toes don’t compete to be fingers. Can you imagine the war when it came time to type, or eat?
Don’t be evil. Treat others like you want to be treated.
What would Google do? Well, I think Google just reinforced the teachings of Christ.
Chuck Warnock, who blogs as a small-church pastor, has the courage to face what newspapers, book publishers, car companies, and other industries (is religion an industry? sure) won’t: their disappearance in current form and replacement in new form. Warnock could give this sermon to newspaper executives (sadly, they wouldn’t listen – and wouldn’t be saved); the impact of change is similar and the need for innovation exactly the same. He says:
I have been saying that we’re counting the wrong things in church (attendance) when we should be counting community engagement. I’ve also said that church attendance will decrease (this is not an original thought), and we’re moving rapidly toward a post-Christendom era like Europe. . . ..
We can be certain of this — we live in an age of discontinuous change and unexpected consequences. Nobody knows exactly what church will look like in the future because we’re not there yet. But I have a feeling it will be multiple models, not one predominant model like we had from WWII until about 1985. . . .
We’ll still have bricks-and-mortar churches, but also house churches, coffee shop churches, outdoor churches, churches that meet once a month, churches that meet online, churches that consists of groups which interact frequently, and churches that we can’t even imagine yet. We will also see ’single market’ churches that focus on the homeless or the physically handicapped or the poor or any niche group you can think of.
In other words, the same thing that is happening in the broader culture will happen in churches, too — more options, more models, a network of niches, rather than a predominant church form.
I am also certain that whatever emerges, church will not ever be the same again. By extension, neither will denominations, cross-cultural missions programs, or Christian education programs be the same again. These will all change radically, because the current models are unsustainable in today’s culture.
And then James (can’t find his last name), a Texas pastor, tries to adapt the rules of Google’s age to his Presbyterian church:
Free is a business model: . . . Still, many churches have a mentality in which they hoard the blessings which they have received. For example, a church building that remains empty most of the week is a waste of resources. Sermons, curriculum, writings and even music (within copyright restrictions) should be made available to the widest audience. . . .
Life is a beta: This speaks more to culture rather than policies and procedures, but a Church who expects mistakes fosters a spirit of forgiveness and humility. There is willingness to try new things, to ask tough questions, and to realize that we never achieve perfection. . . .
Your worst customer is your best friend: The Church should be willing to listen and respond to the misfits and the critics.