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Jes is away today, and her husband Jim is pinch-hitting. Jim Kast-Keat is a divergent thinker, ideation specialist, and aspiring minimalist. He is, among other things, a writer, speaker, theologian, photographer, and all around good guy. (Also, he always wears a shirt and a tie.) Jim spent over half a decade as a pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI and currently works as a Product Designer with sparkhouse in Minneapolis, MN. Jim and his wife Jes (the Rev. JKK) currently live in New York City where they do their best to smile, breathe, and go slowly. To find out more about Jim, go to www.jimkastkeat.com and start exploring.
John was born outside of the World State. And when he enters in he is drawn to and disgusted by what he discovers. In a fit of rage he quotes Shakespeare’s The Tempest, declaring it to be a “Brave New World.” Aldous Huxley’s classic novel and its iconic title aptly describe the world we inhabit today.
From discontinuous change to a narcissistic “me” generation to systemic abandonment of children and adolescents, the church in our current global village is entering (and has been entering) a brave new world. From technology that outdates itself the moment it hits the shelves to idealized fantasies lived in 140 characters to everyone’s personal soundtrack playing through their narcissistically named “iPod,” the church is engaging and is engaged by a unique culture.
It can be easy to fear and helplessly avoid the impending change of the world around us. But the church must not retreat to an alcove of routine but instead raise her sails of tradition, moving forward as she is blown by the spirit of God as an ever-changing part of our ever-changing world. It is the reality of this discontinuous change that requires the church to be “brave” as we enter and engage as a part of this “new world.”
To a generation glued to their “i” devices and absorbed in the world behind their smartphones and earbuds, the church offers a respite of hope: “You are not alone. You were not made to be and you do not have to be.” However, for the church to offer this radically counter-cultural way of community and belonging, she must first come out of her own closet of pride, exclusivism, and fear, entering an ecclesiological world where love truly does win and there is room for all.
In this ever-changing world crying out for belonging, the church must recognize the ways children and adolescents are systemically abandoned. Whereas once upon a time society provided adequate support and reasonable expectations for young people, this is no longer the case. Now they are left to fend for themselves or be displayed as trophies for their parents, schools, and even churches. Teachers do not teach students, they teach mandated tests. Families hide behind pixelated screens while children roam the living room desperate for attention. The church must recognize this vast abandonment and create not just systems of support, but the embodiment of it.
For John was right; we live in a “brave new world.” And we must become a brave new church.