Trend Lines to Consider as We SHIFT: From Maintenance to Mission (Part 1)

In her Friday evening presentation at annual meeting, Cameron Trimble shared brief thoughts on six trend lines operating in our culture. A trend line according to Google is “a line indicating the general course or tendency of something.” I believe consideration of the trend lines Cameron shared might be one way for us to continue imagining ways for our congregations to make small but significant shifts from maintenance to mission so I thought I would share my recollections from Cameron’s talk along with some of my own musings about how we might engage these trend lines in our particular contexts. There are six trend lines to consider, and so I’ve broken this post up into two parts. The first three trend lines are discussed below. The second set of three will be shared in a future post

 Small to Big

We crave small group and deeper relationships. Human connection still matters and people are seeking it. At the same time, we don’t want to compromise access to the broader network available to us through technology.

Small to Big in our contexts would mean paying really close attention to finding ways to deepen and build relationships and a sense of community within our congregations while at the same time developing and nurturing a networked, online, socially connected presence. Twenty-first century people of faith want to be able to be connected with community and with ministry even when they can’t be physically present.

The Wisconsin Digital Ministry Network is cultivating resources and support for congregations to develop or strengthen their online presence. Check them out on Facebook and get connected.

Crowdsourcing

The big idea behind crowdsourcing is that we all have wisdom that is relevant and necessary for solving our own problems. Crowdsourcing draws upon the wisdom and experience of the many instead of focusing solely on experts. One really famous example is Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute and also smart phone apps like Waze that collect data in real time from drivers who use the app that provide optional routes through road construction or warnings when there is a hazard on the road.

I am a big fan of this emerging trend. I believe it has the capacity to call forth creativity and spur action if organized and managed well. We used this trend to organize a portion of our annual meeting this year and will continue to find ways to draw upon your wisdom to shape Shift. This is also the idea behind the www.wcucc.org/resource-center on the conference’s website.

In your local context, you might consider finding ways to listen carefully to yourselves and your neighbors; what are the challenges you are facing in your community and what are the ideas of the crowd for how to address those challenges? Think beyond the usual suspects to spur creativity. It’s amazing what can happen when you put a group of people who are passionate about something around a table and get them talking about what they can do together to address an issue or solve a problem.

Going Local

This may be one of those rare trends where Wisconsin has been leading the pack. Our beloved Green Bay Packers are a great example of Going Local! Think also about the increase of farmer’s markets, buy local campaigns and even the explosion of food trucks in larger cities and towns.

Thanks to our polity, the United Church of Christ is all about going local. Each local congregation has autonomy and authority in determining its own ministry and mission. Consider the local challenges and realities that your congregation already addresses. Are there gaps in your local community that your congregation could help to fill? In what additional or deeper ways might you support and lift up local businesses and help build a more robust local economy, support your local schools and non-profit agencies and improve the standard of living in your community?

What thoughts, ideas, possibilities emerged for you as you read through these trend lines? Please share your comments, questions, challenges and also examples you see in your local community or around the world of where you see these trend lines in operation.