Just got back from attending the annual clergy conference for our diocese and as usual I came back with more questions than answers. I love it when we have guest speakers who come, give us their take then leave and all I get is a confusing mess of stuff rushing around in my brain. This past week we heard from folks from Leadership Education at Duke University who spoke to us about the “deep trends” that we are facing as leaders in the church. They suggest that we need to somehow be, not only aware of these trends, but how to engage with them as we negotiate our future as a church.
Now, I do admit to not being one of the best and brightest of our Episcopal clergy, it takes me awhile to process what I have just been told before I can even begin to understand what it all means. As I listened to what the seven so-called “deep trends” are, I began to envision us moving slowly toward being one of those dystopian societies like those in the currently popular, YA novels. It became increasingly clear when one of those trends was what they called the lure of cities, people moving into or creating huge cities in which to work and live. Huge mega cities, that include, not just a few million but 12, 13 even 20 million people, living together and vying for the inevitable shortages that comes when human beings try to cram into limited living spaces.
Overall, these mega cities are all going to require food, fuel and entertainment, not unlike the Capitol portrayed in the Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy. The question is how do we, as a church and as Christians, begin to understand these trends so that we can fully engage with them before we are subsumed by the tsunami these changes create? I was thinking that Jesus was basically a country boy, raised in a small village, who preached and taught out in the countryside and who preached his most famous sermon on a mount outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was when he entered into that city, when he confronted the powers, both religious and political, that he was then arrested, tried and condemned to death. The city, in all of it’s narcissistic glory, is jealous and demands more of our emotional resources and does not tolerate thinking that denigrates its power and influence.