Trend lines to Consider as we SHIFT: From Maintenance to Mission (Part 2)

In her Friday evening presentation at annual meeting, Cameron Trimble shared brief thoughts on 6 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 6 trend lines to consider and so I’ve broken this post up into two parts. The first three trend lines were shared in an earlier post. The second set of three are shared below.

Do it Yourself

I remember watching my great-grandmother knitting, crocheting, making rugs, sewing clothes, and canning from her massive garden. As a child I viewed all of this activity as the quaint ways of the older generation. I was from the city and so I didn’t need to know how to do all those things. The Do It Yourself trend is reversing this movement and challenging this idea as millions of Americans are learning skills and trades we used to think would fade away with technology and urbanization. Increasingly, Americans are re-learning all these skills and embracing them as a way to provide our own goods, make ends meet or bringing in additional income. Groups of people connecting around learning and developing these skills are also a way to express creativity and form community.

I wonder what do it yourself opportunities exist for our local congregations. What can we do ourselves to fund ministry – what goods or services can we provide to supplement our incomes? How can we open our buildings to provide space for people to gather to knit or sew or make things? Can our kitchens become a resource for food entrepreneurs? Could our land become garden space for our food pantry or for community gardeners? What could members of our congregations teach to people in our local community – small engine repair or website design, knitting or sewing?

Sharing Economy

Increasingly, because of environmental awareness and economic instability we are asking ourselves why do we all need everything and what can we share? In recent years we have seen businesses like Uber, Zipcar, Community Car, Air B & B and others spring up. All of these businesses are rooted in the sharing economy – sharing cars and homes. I’ve also heard of neighborhood groups organizing around sharing garden tools and lawn care equipment and groups of parents sharing child care. The possibilities are endless as we follow this trend.

What do you possess as a congregation that you can share more fully with your neighbors and wider community? How can you share your building, your land? Can your members share things with one another or with your neighbors – skills, services, resources, space?

Start-Up Nation

This trend is grounded in the idea that the way we’re working isn’t working – long days, inflexible hours, cubicles, commutes, challenging bosses etc. Increasingly younger workers want more flexibility, more time with their families, and work that reflects their values and that enables them to contribute to the well-being of their community. In response, we are seeing a significant rise in entrepreneurialism. People are starting their own businesses, developing smart phone apps and creating micro-enterprises that enable them to have the flexibility they crave. Even if it means lower wages, we want to be our own bosses and live the American Dream.

What I love about this trend is the risk taking that is involved. Starting your own business, or quitting a steady job are huge risks and yet people are taking them every day because their vision of what is possible through that risk is more compelling than the reality they are currently experiencing. The wisdom of this trend for our congregations is in the reality most of us have to face that the way we’re doing church isn’t working so well for us anymore either. How do we embrace the spirit of creativity and risk-taking that this trend line represents and apply it to our local congregations. How do we craft a faith community that is flexible, supports our values, serves our community, and improves the quality of life for us and our neighbors?

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.