Tag: kevin kelly

Are sermons dying?

Are sermons dying? I don’t mean is your preaching killing people, but are sermons themselves going the way of the dodo bird — headed for extinction? Worship in most evangelical churches, and that includes many small churches, still resembles evangelical worship in 19th century churches — singing, prayer, offering, preaching, invitation. Charles Spurgeon would be proud. Or would he?

Read Kevin Kelly’s post about Clay Shirky’s talk on media here. Then, watch the video of Shirky’s talk in its entirety — about 8-minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

One of Shirky’s main points is that the main media in our culture — TV — has served to siphon off our collective creativity. Shirky has some fascinating stats on how many hours we watch TV, how many hours it took to do the entire Wikipedia project (which is still on-going, obviously), and how much brain power is out there. He ends with the story of the 4-year old looking for the mouse.

Which brings me back to my question — if our culture is moving toward a producer society where everybody can participate, what’s the future of the sermon? At least the sermon as we know it — one guy or gal talking without interruption for 15-20 minutes, no questions, no comments, no participation.

Or are sermons just a form of message delivery, honed to a fine edge during the 19th century? And, if sermons are just a form of delivery and not inherently indispensable, what will replace them? What message delivery forms will we see in the 21st century? Do powerpoints and film clips imbedded in sermons present us with a new message delivery platform, or are they just the old sermon dressed up in 21st century technology? What would a real 21st century “sermon” look like? Where would it be delivered? What media would carry it? Just asking….

Two blogs I always read…and one new one

I pared down my Google reader list several weeks ago.  I was trying to keep up with too many blogs, too many bloggers, and too many categories.  Now I have 5 categories — culture, emerging church, marketing, simple life, and small church — 33 subscriptions in all, down from about 100.

But, even with my reduced list, I still don’t get to read everybody everyday.  Sometimes I hit the ‘mark as read’ button and just start over the next day.  (Sorry, but it’s true.)  But, there are two blogs I always read — Seth Godin and anything Kevin Kelly writes.  Seth always has a pithy, slightly off-beat post.  Which you might expect from the guy who wrote “All Marketers Are Liars” and “Purple Cow” and so on.  Kevin Kelly is one of the founders of Wired magazine, a Christian, and an amazing thinker.

Now I’ve added one new blog to my list, Reaching the Online Generation.  The guys at CityTeam have some really good ideas about using the wired world to reach people for Christ.  Now, in my setting I don’t get to use all their ideas, but I don’t get to use all of Seth Godin’s or Kevin Kelly’s either.  I just find them interesting.  Hope you do, too.

Church wants to be free

free1.jpg An interesting article by Kevin Kelly got me thinking about church. Church, I believe, wants to be free. Not free, like “Free Willy.” I’m not talking about an imprisoned behemoth that wants to leap the channel net into freedom, although that might be another post in the future. I’m talking about free as in “no cost” free. Economically free. Free as in “no charge.”

A good example of the new free is music. The internet has completely revolutionized how we (“we”= kids) gain access to music. Mostly for free. Radiohead made news by giving away their latest album for free when it was first released. We are getting used to free, and we like it. Church related items aren’t exempt from this move to free. Several years ago I subscribed to an online sermon illustration service and a sermon preparation magazine. Two years ago I cancelled both subscriptions. Why? Because now comparable material is available for free on the internet.

With the move to free, here’s what I would like to see in the church world:

  • More peer-to-peer sharing. Kids revolutionized music distribution through file-sharing and downloads. Okay, much of it was illegal, but now that’s been cleaned up and artists are actually joining the free music revolution. Some musicians give away their music via downloads. Pastors and church leaders ought to create networks for sharing information, sermons, programs, music, art, ideas, and concepts. Why do we wait for denominations or mega-churches to sponsor seminars? Why don’t we get together as church leaders and craft our own seminars, where we are the content creators?
  • Less consumer-culture. The church world is just as captive as the rest of society to the consumer culture. We have come to believe that the best ideas are the ones we buy. That is simply not true. The best ideas are the ones that fit our context and can be done for little or no money. The iMonk has a great post on the religious- industrial complex.
  • More done for love, and not for money. Kevin Kelly also contends that the internet runs on love — millions of people work for free to put up good material on the internet just because they love creating and contributing. How have we let popular culture steal the principle by which the kingdom of God should operate? If someone has a better outreach program, shouldn’t they give it away? If someone knows a better way to present the gospel to others, shouldn’t they make that available for free? If we really believe what we say about the Christian life, shouldn’t all of us who call ourselves Christian work passionately to make sure that all the best ideas, programs, concepts, and methodologies are free?
  • Less slick and more real. We don’t need the Madison Avenue look — slick and expensive — to communicate in today’s world. We need authenticity. We need real. Plus, we’re amateurs when it comes to slick advertising anyway. What do we have that’s real? Community, love, help, care, relationships, people, and God. Beats Madison Avenue every time.
  • Smaller budgets and more creativity. We have bought the myth that small churches have small budgets and, therefore, can’t do much. But, creativity and collaboration rise to the top when funds are limited.
  • Smaller churches. Small churches have an economy of scale that large churches do not. And, that’s why small churches outnumber big ones, and survive longer than large churches.

So, that’s my riff on free church. That’s also why I blog, to create a forum where we can help each other for free. What do you think? How can we start the free church revolution? Or am I the only person who believes church wants to be free? I’d like your thoughts. — Chuck

Some thoughts to tide you over

The community center is coming along nicely, and we are about 75-days away from getting the keys.  Which means a lot of work ordering furnishings, contacting utility companies, planning the opening, and so on.  All seems to be piling in at once, plus the continuing change-orders, additions, and problem-solving that go with building a 16,000-square foot building.  But, it’s going well, just fast and furious.  Which explains my lack of posts this week.  So, until I get my sermon for Sunday up, here’s some good stuff I’ve been reading:

More later.

Techno Tues: Think your TV is big? and other stuff…

panasonic-150-in-plasma-tv.jpg At CES in Las Vegas today, Panasonic showed off their 150″ plasma TV — just in time for the Super Bowl!  But, before you rush out to Circuit City, apparently there’s only one right now.  Here are some more fascinating tidbits:

  1. Girls blog, boys watch YouTube according to PSFK’s summary of Pew Research’s study on the media habits of families.  Implications for youth ministry?
  2. For those into live blogging conferences, Kevin Kelly has a link to a free article for newbie or wannabe live conference bloggers.
  3. Want a free 1500+ page, beautifully illustrated physics book?  Here.
  4. Quote from Seth Godin’s post about the music industry —

7. Remember the Bob Dylan rule: it’s not just a record, it’s a movement.
Bob and his handlers have a long track record of finding movements. Anti-war movements, sure, but also rock movies, the Grateful Dead, SACDs, Christian rock and Apple fanboys. What Bob has done (and I think he’s done it sincerely, not as a calculated maneuver) is seek out groups that want to be connected and he works to become the connecting the point.

By being open to choices of format, to points of view, to moments in time, Bob Dylan never said, “I make vinyl records that cost money to listen to.” He understands at some level that music is often the soundtrack for something else.

I think the same thing can be true for chefs and churches and charities and politicians and makers of medical devices. People pay a premium for a story, every time.

 Now, if only we had a good story…..

How the ‘one machine’ will affect the church

Kevin Kelly talks and writes about the one machine which, he says, the internet is becoming.  Read his complete post here and another post here.  Here’s Kelly describing the one machine in his own words —

“The next stage in human technological evolution is a single thinking/web/computer that is planetary in dimensions. This planetary computer will be the largest, most complex and most dependable machine we have ever built. It will also be the platform that most business and culture will run on. The web is the initial OS of this new global machine, and all the many gadgets we possess are the windows into its core. Future gizmos will be future gateways into the same One Machine. Designing products and services for this new machine require a unique mind-set.”

The amazing thing is, if you have a computer, you are already a microcomponent in the one machine.  Add all the computers in the world together (internet), link them up (web), make all the information searchable (links) and — bingo — one machine.  Which is only going to get bigger. 

Kelly contends the one machine is approaching the computing power of 1HB — one human brain.  But by 2040, the one machine’s computing power will be that of 6-billion human brains.  Nice leap.  Already the one machine uses 5% of the total energy in the world. 

Here’s the roll-out for how this one machine evolves —

  1. Link computers.  Done.
  2. Link documents and pages. Done.
  3. Link data. Done.
  4. Link things.  Not yet. 

And what Kelly means by linking things is this — each thing will have within it a ‘connection’ with the essence of that thing whether it is design, performance, information, or location.  Then, things will be connected directly, not through other devices. 

“That fourth stage is the drift towards linking up the things themselves. You want all the data about a thing to be embedded into the thing. You want location information embedded at, or in, the location itself. You actually want to connect not to the airline’s computer, nor to the airline’s flight page, nor to the flight data, but to the flight itself. Ideally, we would connect to the embedded processing and raw information in the airplane, in your particular seat, at  the airport’s slot — the entire complex of items and services we call “the flight.” What we ultimately want is an internet of things.”

Now, if we have an internet of things, how does that change church?  Well, meeting times could be totally flexible, more like meetups than fixed place/time events.  Connections will be digital, so that congregations could exist not in physical proximity to each other, but in digital proximity to each other.  Think myspace, you tube, and google (plus a bunch more), all linked together in realtime, live and carried around in your pocket. 

This one machine is also always on, meaning connections could be made across time zones, around the world, and 24/7. 

Money will flow over this one machine, so contributions do not have to be made in person.  Imagine someone walking down a street in Chicago.  This person encounters a woman who asks for some grocery money to feed her children.  Our good samaritan connects with a dozen people over her cloudbook right then, who each kick in $5 a piece, which lands at the grocery as a credit for this woman in her name, with a passcode.  Kind of like Western Union without the middle man — at least physically.

Get ready for the decentralized, non-expert church.  What the web did for knowledge and opinion, it will certainly do for church, too.  2040 is only 32-years away.  What are we doing to prepare the next generations of leaders to lead in the world that grows ever smaller, more nimble, and at the same time, more connected?  And why don’t we try some of this on now? 

Tuesday’s terrific technology tools

How’s that for alliteration?  Okay, bad header aside, I do have some interesting stuff today, techno-wise —

  1. Highrise — I’ve been looking for a web-based CRM (customer relationship manager) that was adaptable to church ministry, and I think I’ve found it.  Check out Highrise which allows you to keep track of people, tasks, projects, and stash them all in a “case” that holds all the info on a particular individual.  You can also share information among users (for multi-staff churches) and tags and categories are totally customizable.  Best part:  for small churches you can use it free!  You can track up-to 250 contacts (members, prospects, friends) on the free version, upgradeable at anytime to a paid version.  I’m on the free version now, and it’s working really well for me.  Plus, Highrise is accessible from any on-line computer. Check out how this pastor uses Highrise in ministry. 
  2. TED Talks — If you don’t know about TED Talks, you need to.  Go to TED.com to see short video presentations by some of the smartest people in the world.  Read the story of TED, how it started, and what they do.  Then, put TED Talks on your podcasts download for some really cool and interesting stuff.  One of the 2007 TED prize winners was Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God
  3. Cool Tools — Started by Kevin Kelly, Cool Tools gets about a 1,000,000-hits per month.  Pretty good traffic, and lots of really neat stuff.  I just like looking at all the gadgets, and the occasional book that gets mentioned. 
  4. LivingOS — For those into Open Source software, this guy, Tim, has good tips on what works for churches, plus free downloads of worship slides, and good advice on church websites.  Plus, he’s a pastor in the UK. 

My theory is that there is lots of good, free stuff out there that small churches can use as tools for more effective ministry.  Good hunting!

“Kindle: iTunes for words” plus writers, readers, and the web

Okay, I’m already lying here.Kindle by Amazon  I promised I would only post once a week on this blog, but I run across stuff that really excites me more than once a week.  So, here are a couple of related pieces on writers, readers, and the web just today —

— My friend rlp has a great post, Web 2.0, on writing in the brave new world of the web.  If you’re a blogger, writer, or just love words, check out his post.  I also shared it under the Trends of Interest feed to the left. 

rlp also clipped this video, which I am now clipping.  This is good, clever, and seriously creative and explains what has happened to information in the last 10-years.

 Today Amazon officially announced Kindle, their new e-reader.  Very cool.  And of course, it’s tied to Amazon.  Kind of like iTunes for words.  The interesting thing is Amazon needs content to feed Kindle.  So not only is it a book reader, but it’s also a blogreader (yes, my fellowbloggers), a newspaper reader, and a Wikipedia reader all-in-one.  Plus it stores you own docs, and works off cell technology.  You don’t need a computer — no need to sync to a desktop or lappy, but you can if you want to.  Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says Kindle is a service.  Hardware is not the star, writing is.  What a great time to be a writer!

The Kindle has limitations as does every other device out there, and Kevin Kelly comments that he is still waiting for the cloudbook that will do everything.  Me, too.  Imagine a bigger iPhone that is also a reader, plus computer, plus cellphone, plus internet access, plus toaster.  Okay, maybe not the toaster, but everything else.  It’s coming.  Kevin Kelly writes about this Always On Book and has blogged about the future of books here and here.  I love his labels — People of the Book and People of the Screen

What are the implications for church?  This is the shift in the creation, storage, distribution, remixing, and redistribution of information.  It is democratic, not top down, not expert-driven, and uncontrollable (at least by those who might want to control the free-flow of information).  What do you think the possibilities are? 

The way we relate is changing

Two articles from PSFK, plus one from Kevin Kelly illustrate that how the way we relate to one another is changing, especially the younger you are. 

  1. NY City high school students who get good grades will receive a cell phone and free ringtones or minutes, even though cell phones are banned in school.  They can’t use them there, but it proves the  power of the cell phone among teens as a primary communication device. 
  2. Heard of Warcraft, the huge online game played by about a zillion kids?  Now there’s Datecraft, which gives a whole new meaning to “playing games.”  Here’s what the article from PSFK says — “However, the site really illustrates how the web is changing 1:1 relationships across the board. In 2005, 12% of American newlyweds met online thanks to the slew of dating sites out there. But recent polls show that the Internet can also be a love substitute = potential social dysfunction. So it’s encouraging that gamers are reaching out past their keyboards to make real-life social connections.”
  3. Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine really has the zinger though.  Kelly says that we are headed toward a global machine — OneMachine — of which the current internet is only a component.  We’ll all be plugged into this OneMachine for everything.  Kelly says —

    The next stage in human technological evolution is a single thinking/web/computer that is planetary in dimensions. This planetary computer will be the largest, most complex and most dependable machine we have ever built. It will also be the platform that most business and culture will run on. The web is the initial OS of this new global machine, and all the many gadgets we possess are the windows into its core. Future gizmos will be future gateways into the same One Machine. Designing products and services for this new machine require a unique mind-set. 

Kelly goes on to describe the immensity gPhone prototypeof the One Machine and predicts that sometime between 2020 and 2040, the One Machine will exceed the computational power of all humans combined — over 6-billion human brains.  Imagine that on your DSL connection. Computers will become gateways to the One Machine where all computing will be done online.  Google is already headed there with Google Docs, gmail, google maps, contacts, and about 30 other apps they have designed.  All accessible from anywhere on earth from any computer.  And the Google gPhone will be able to access all of it, anytime, anywhere, on any system, with any handset.  Begin to see the ramifications? 

But lost in the hoopla about the gPhone was the Google announcement that they are developing Open Social which will allow any website to create its own Facebook application.  So, your church could develop it’s own social network.  And those in the network would not be restricted to geographic proximity — they could live anywhere.   And, theoretically, your church Facebook could be linked to other churches of similar flavor, or other ministries, or sold to advertising companies to generate revenue for the church, or have ads pop-up when individuals log on to their church account.  Some pretty wild and scary applications could result. 

This is where we are heading.  This also makes the conversations we have at church about worship styles or other issues pale by comparison.  What do you see implied in this new way we will relate to one another for the future of the church?