Change is Happening at Warp Speed. Can Your Church Join In?

In my recent blog post I encouraged readers to prepare for “change and opportunity.” In the next 10 blog posts in 2017 I will invite you to join an unusual group of innovators who are imagining and creating a range of new ways to live and engage some of tomorrow’s challenges and create new forms of church.

These innovators are inviting all of us to become more serious followers of Jesus by joining them in creating: new forms of lifemaking, changemaking and churchmaking that both engage some of tomorrow’s new opportunities in ways that also more fully reflects the radical way of the servant Jesus.

Welcome to a decade of 2017 to 2027… changing at warp speed!

In January I mentioned Tom Friedman’s new book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimistic Guide to Thriving in An Age of Accelerations.  He argues convincingly, that the rate of change seems to be accelerating.  He suggests that three of the forces causing this acceleration are:

  1. the explosive development of new forms of technology
  2. the rapid globalization of the planet
  3. the growing threat of climate change irrevocably threatening the well being of life on this planet.

I want to add a 4th.

We are also witnessing a growing wave of nationalism and populism that is sweeping through Europe destabilizing governments and relationships to other countries.

When I was speaking at the New Parish Conference in the UK in November I found that the British vote to leave the European Union is dividing both the society and the church. Since our presidential election in the US, we too are being impacted by this volatile movement. I suspect this movement is also accelerating the rate of change and political turbulence in other countries all over the planet.

We have a choice.  We can allow this growing list of challenges to discourage us or we can view them as opportunities to imagine and create innovative new responses…that not only brings real change but a rising tide of hope as well!

A New Generation of Innovators

Welcome to a new generation of innovators who are creating new responses to new challenges and opportunity!

In each of these 10 posts for 2017 I will invite readers to join those who seek to create new forms of “lifemaking” to ignite their imaginations to create ways of living. Below, I’ll introduce you to Jensen Roll an inspiring innovator we can all learn from.

We will also share new forms of “changemaking”, to move beyond handouts, to working with neighbors by creating, not only new housing models, but also starting new social enterprises that provide our neighbors people a living wage.

Finally, we will also feature new forms of churchmaking that aren’t just focused on the needs of the gathered but increasingly learning how to become churches for others… devoted to serious changemaking with our neighbors… always throwing better parties.

A Future Challenge

The growing housing crisis in the coming decade for the poor, middle class and young innovators

Let’s start by looking at the challenge, in this coming decade, of the growing housing crisis facing the working poor, the middle class and increasingly the young….including young church planters, social entrepreneurs and under 35 innovators.

I find very few people over 50, including church leaders, recognize how drastically the housing market has changed for the under 35.  This is particularly true for those young innovators who want to invest their lives in serious change making.

In Live Like You Give A Damn! Join the Changemaking Celebration I celebrate the welcome news that millennials are much more globally aware since they are the first digital generation.  As a consequence they are much more aware of issues of economic, racial and environmental justice.

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I also celebrate the even better news that a higher percentage of them want to invest their lives in creative new forms of urban empowerment, environmental innovation and planting churches that don’t simply exist for the gathered but for serious neighborhood changemaking as well.

However, millennials are facing the double whammy of the highest school debt ever and the highest housing costs in most markets in the US.  I talked to a young church planter who has no idea how he will ever be able to pay off $90,000 debt for his M Div degree and then purchase the kind of suburban house he was raised in.

Some of these young leaders also tell us it is even harder to imagine a way to enable the working poor in their neighborhood to ever reach the place of buying their own home…given the forecasts that housing prices are likely to rise faster than peoples incomes in the next ten years.

In contrast, I bought my first house in Portland in 1962, a newly restored 1920s four bedroom, two bath bungalow with an unfinished basement for $14,000 with $100 a month payments. Even though my salary at a Christian college was barely above a monthly public welfare check I had no problem making the hosing payments.  For my generation the costs of housing was dirt cheap and school debt was virtually unheard of.

Jensen Roll’s Housing Solution

Meet Jensen Roll. He’s a 24 year old creating innovative housing options in an increasingly expensive housing market in these rapidly changing times

Jensen Roll is a friend of mine.  I am fortunate, that as a young social entrepreneur, he often finds time to co-present with me.  Jensen graduated with a degree in Social Enterprise from Elon University last May.  I have enjoyed getting to know Jensen and I am so impressed with his innovative imagination.

Since Jensen wants to invest his life in creating new forms of social enterprise to help empower those at the margins he has been struggling with the cost of housing for himself as he is getting started as a social innovator.

This millennial ignited his imagination and came up with an intriguing idea.  He approached Lowes hardware and persuade them to provide the building materials for him and his friends to construct a tiny House.

During his final semester at Elon University friends at school and church taught him how to weld the bottom frame with wheels on which to build the house. With the materials from Lowes and the help from his friends he was able to build his Tiny House for around $20,000.  He and his bride plan to make their home in this mobile dwelling to reduce their living costs and increase their mobility. It includes a loft bedroom, kitchen, bath and a sitting area.

This experience sparked a new idea for him of how to help those with marginal incomes to also have the possibility of becoming home owners too.  Jensen calls his innovation a Tiny House Village.

Welcome to the Tiny House / Big Village

Jensen has purchased ten acres within walking distance of the downtown of his hometown, Burlington North Carolina. He and his collaborators plan to construct a 50 unit Tiny House Village for low income clients many of whom never expected to be able to own their own home.  It will operate like a co-housing community with a common garden and other forms of cooperation.  Jensen is working with the local leaders in Burlington to fashion land use policies that ensure these tiny houses on skids conform to the local codes.

Jensen’s plan is to build fifty 350 square foot tiny houses with sleeping loft, kitchen, bathroom and sitting room for $50,000 each. If tenants pay their monthly rent for 5 years they will own their own home.

Can you see how even tomorrow’s most daunting challenges are really new opportunities to invite the creator God to ignite our imaginations to create innovative responses.

Your Invitation to Changemaking

I want to hear not only your response to this post but even more importantly to hear your innovative ideas for lifemaking, changemaking and churchmaking.  What are your new ways to engage one of tomorrow’s new opportunities in ways that reflects something of the radical compassion of Jesus…and makes a real difference in the lives of others?

This is your invitation to join this ongoing conversation by sharing with us, and our other readers, your new innovations and your best ideas of how to address some of tomorrow’s new challenges and opportunities of a world changing at warp speed.  This is your invitation to discover the satisfaction of God using our mustard seeds to make a little difference in times like these.

Write us at www.newchangemakers.com and share the creative ways God is using your mustard seeds to make a little difference in these troubled times.

Welcome to the changemaking celebration! Learn more at www.newchangemakers.com.

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Tom Sine
Tom Sine is a founder of Mustard Seed Associates and the author of Live Like You Give a Damn!: Join the Changemaking Celebration. Tom earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington and has taught at the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, and Fuller Seminary in Seattle. He speaks widely at colleges, churches, and missions conferences around the world. He and his wife Christine live in an inter-generational community in Seattle where he works with individuals, churches and organizations to foster new ways of affecting organic, lasting change in various sociological contexts.
Tom Sine

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