Now that technological advancement allows us to get more done in less time, we put greater pressure on individuals, families, and congregations to accelerate “impact,” even when we aren’t sure what impact means or looks like.
Congregations are applauded for “accelerating the impact of the gospel” and “advancing the kingdom” (not Root’s words, but words I hear a lot as a pastor). These churches have used Silicon Valley’s business model and philosophy of time to “build up” a church—but what, Root asks, does Facebook have in common with a local congregation? Is Google like the Good Shepherd?
As someone who uses terms like “accelerating the gospel”, I am intrigued by these critiques
I think the tension is multi-way. Complacency/sloth can be mistaken for spiritual rest. Greed/ambition can be mistaken for spiritual vitality.
To accelerate the Gospel can mean to faithfully steward what God has made available in order to pursue God’s call. It does not mean doing the same without improvement, nor does it presume mere human wisdom achieves God’s ends.
“the enchantments of mammon”—or the worship and awe of business acumen, leadership jargon, and other capitalistic values. The gods of Silicon Valley are obvious here, but they are somewhat absent from Root’s analysis.
This is something I’m increasingly becoming disenchanted with especially when I ponder what kind of life I want to live and as I see the outcomes of the lives of people who have achieved Silicon Valley’s version of “salvation”.
Church small groups do not exist merely to help us achieve personal goals or aid our own spiritual quests; they exist, instead, as a space of resonance where our activity is second to the activity of Jesus Christ.
I need to study more what the technical meaning of resonance is. However, even though small groups are presented programmatically, in practice I’ve found that they don’t really advance personal goals or spiritual quests. They tend to meet social needs. But the most vibrant ones do “spur each other on to love and good works”.
The Congregation in a Secular Age invites us to ask whether we, as the church, are playing the same games as Silicon Valley. Competition and speed are necessary for capitalism but are deadly for churches. Why compete in a game of speed that we were never meant to play—and which we are destined to lose? Root’s book is essential for pastors like me, stuck in an accelerated culture. Perhaps it is not enough to “un-hurry” or “slow down”; maybe it’s time to get off the ride for good.
I am confused by the phrase “competition and capitalism are deadly for churches.” The writer presumes much in the definitions of those terms. Competition is a reality of existence. People have limited attention, energy, resources and in the processes of choosing how to “spend” or “invest” or “allocate” it, they pick one community or program or activity over another. Choosing to “get off the ride” doesn’t mean a pastor’s church suddenly does not have to compete with everything else. It just means they want to “compete” in a different way–by offering a different culture or way of life than the surrounding milieu. It’s sort of like how the nation of Israel was to be different from the surrounding nations through its observance of the Sabbath.