Monday, December 05, 2011

Reconfiguring Ecclesiology in Participatory Culture

The more I participate in and study various aspects of contemporary American and Western culture the more I recognize that the church is ill prepared to participate in relevant ways. We need to be asking ourselves why the church is still largely a passive culture, whereas the rest of the society in which we find ourselves is now a participatory culture.

This has dawned on me the more I study things like Burning Man Festival, science fiction festivals, and even with the recent viewing of a documentary on George Lucas which referenced thousands of fan films that wanted to make their contribution to the universe and mythology of Star Wars. Think of YouTube pages, blogging, Twitter, personally created playlists on iTunes, and any number of other technologies we draw upon every day. People want to be active participants in the creation of what matters most to them. Yet church worship services involve coming to a building at a time designated by others, standing when you are told to stand, sitting when you are told to sit, singing songs (and in the styles and forms) chosen by others, and hearing a message crafted by others and then being told what to think about it and how to act on it in your own life.

The church in the 21st century American and Western contexts must be thinking about what it means to reconfigure ecclesiology in participatory culture. Where is this on the agenda of the emerging and missional church movements?

1 comment:

Pastor Phil said...

Hey John,

Currently hanging with some friends from The Tribe LA. At their service last night it was obvious that they are a participation based gathering of believers.

Our little group in Salem, The Gathering, has been acting that way since we started the church in 1999.

There are examples popping up all over the place, but these are not churches you will find on TV, because participation based spirituality is not easy to film, and it is not easily captured in 7 minute sound bites for a one hour show.

Having said that, there are some ways in which participatory culture even battles itself. Short time spans and high participation do not easily weave together.