We've turned the download of iOS 7 to our iPads and iPhones into a family joke. It may just as well be class room time too. There's a learning curve with iOS 7, activating the latest enhancements. Its been funny because syncing iOS 7 with iOS 63 has been a test. OK, for the uninformed, it's the age thing again. There's a good chance the techie stuff of iOS 7 has eclipsed the capacity of this 63 year old mind to update. Oops. System overload!
Harriet and I both enjoy our technical gadgets. We had laptops early on, iPods when they were first released, iPhones on the front edge of that new wrinkle, and iPads when we could work them into our Excel spread sheet. She has a fast, big screen laptop and I'm working on a MAC BOOK as I write. We end days on NOOK e-readers, set the security system and house lights with our iPhones, and shop using Pay Pal @ eBay and Amazon. So for 60+ seasoned citizens, we're pretty connected. We both do FaceBook and Twitter, understand Instagram technology, and do Face Time when we're not playing Words with Friends or scrolling Pinterest. Hubba, hubba.
But, this 63 year old internal operating system often runs into software difficulties. I mean, the new digital world moves at the speed of thought and iOS 63 is still trying to memorize forty seven personal pass words and pin numbers. Keeping up often pushes me to the limit. And, it's more than a humorous rant about memory, power sources, real-time, or living in la la land. This iOS 63 thing may be the reason so many churches are flat-lined. It is very possible that iOS 63 (or higher, as the case may be), may have a hard time syncing with iOS 2013.
We've assumed plateaued or declining churches have lost their spiritual passion and love for the communities around them. This may be true in many cases. However, in many others, the congregation is, instead, robbed of energy. Younger people have abandoned the declining neighborhoods surrounding the church and everything about it has aged. The facility and ministry plan have a retro look, not because it is trendy but because its actually dated. Updating the church is like iOS 63 trying to sync with iOS 7. It is a very steep learning curve that requires patience, passion, and at times, purposeful assistance. If church re-vitalization is on the agenda these days, then the syncing process will need greater attention.
It's not primarily a preference issue, either, the natural tension that exists when the young and old discuss just about anything. There was a time when the more youthful ideas deferred to the older out of respect and submission. Post-modernism set much of that old world aside and the emergence of the millennial cohort, the largest age grouping now, changed everything. No, updating the internal organization and the metrics of mission today is more a matter of language.
Leonard Sweet's Carpe Manana goes to this point quite well. Released in 2001, its got some age on it. But, it casts the challenge of keeping up with the times in terms of two colliding cultures---immigrants and natives. Immigrants are basically alien to this new digital world and must learn it. There's a sync problem here, the one I, as a total senior citizen, must navigate often. Natives are home-boys to the connected, on-line world. They move in it automatically. Like my six year old grandson John Lewis Carpenter, working remotes and iPad games and surfing the net are things he can do blind-folded.
At the same time, keeping up isn't a judgment about which is best. To say I'm an immigrant isn't a slam or a negative value assessment of my generational cohort. Nor does being a native make one especially enlightened or more spiritual. We are what we are, and it is what it is. But, clearly, congregations that have done this syncing process with the times are typically more effective in reaching their communities.
Faith is freah and vibrant, an expression of life, and life more abundant. This life is a recurring them in Scripture, and especially in the teaching and ministry of Jesus. In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, "Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?" (Isaiah 43:19). It is very important for His church to mimic Issachar, who "understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). That is difficult, perhaps impossible, if the world surrounding the church is speaking "native" and the church is still talking "immigrant". God's church is assigned to the world around us right now. Surely, we can be in this world without being of it.
Bring on iOS 8, 13, or 25. iOs 63 can sync to it.