This weekend I’m attending a conference called “Everything Must Change” based on a book by the same name. Just in case you are interested, here’s a stream of thought recap from the opening session:

Session 1: Waking Up From A Bad Dream. (w/Brian McLaren)
The problems the church has been trying to solve has had little to do with the real problems of the world. (Ex. We worry about music styles. The world worries about extreme poverty.)

Multiple lists have been developed of Global challenges. For an example, check out the 8 Millenium Developmental Goals.

Brian has tried to boil down the root causes of the top problems:
1. The Crisis of the Planet. Our society has created prosperity (the good life) that far outpaces the imagination of our ancestors, (ex: no ancient king had the simple pleasures of air conditioning and a hot shower we see as givens today) and overtaxes our closed eco-system (aside from the random asteroid, only solar energy comes in, aside from the random rocket, only heat goes out) which we are deeply connected to. We can’t keep this pace up.
2. The Equity Crisis. The prosperity system is working well for 1 billion of the 6.6 billion people on the planet. (ex. the top 5% of the world’s population hold 70% of the world’s wealth, the remaining 95% hold only 30%) Even though significant numbers of people are coming out of extreme poverty, the gap between the rich and poor is growing wider and wider every year. (A child born in the Congo today has a life expectancy 40 years SHORTER than one born in the US)
3. The Security Crisis. If you feel there’s no way to get a piece of the prosperity others have, you feel desperate and do whatever you can. (ex. terrorism) The rich and poor are becoming increasingly more armed to fight each other.
4. The Human Motivation Crisis. Why haven’t people been motivated to fix these problems? People are motivated by the stories they frame their lives around. Religion provides core stories for most of the earth’s population. The stories the major religions (Christianity & Islam- 53% of the world’s peoples) are telling either aren’t addressing the above crises or are making them worse. Christians especially are reading the stories of God looking for only certain themes (ex. eternal salvation) and missing others. (ex. bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth) “What you focus on determines what you miss.”

Jesus introduced a new narrative. A good news story. A story of a Kingdom that comes through reconciliation, restoration, humility, sacrifice and love.

These crises aren’t going away anytime soon. We need to re-claim a story that creates a way of life that makes sense in this crazy world.

We need to start dis-believing the old narratives that create these crises:
– Domination (if we were in power, things would be better)
– Revolution (if they were out of power, things would be better)
– Scapegoating (it’s their fault- get rid of “them” and things will get better)
– Isolation (We’re screwed, let’s pull back and take care of ourselves)

On the way into group discussions: “Listen each other into free speech”

Going into worship: “Worship is subversive. It’s like giving the finger to all of the other things that demand our adoration.”