Dictators and Pastors or Revolutions and Revivals

This is less of a blog post and more of a mind dump…feel free to try and read it.

I saw a talk by Clay Shirky at SXSW Interactive this year that was mind blowing for me in terms of pulling together lots of ideas I have into a detailed breakdown of the revolution in Egypt. In case you were living under a rock the last few months you know that the Egyptian dictator was overthrown by the people of that country and the catalytic tools of web, social media and SMS were the factor that finally made it possible.

I believe there is some correlation between the revolution in Egypt (and now happening in several other states led by dictators) and the potential for revival in the ‘C’hurch. There is also some correlation between dictators and pastors in terms of their roles. I freely admit that as a pastor many of my decisions are clouded by my desire to keep my job and I think I can speak for every pastor I have ever met when I say that.

**UPDATE** SXSW Released the Audio
Clay Shirky at SXSWi

The first thing Clay did was draw up a history of what media has done throughout history starting with Tyndale and his printing of the Bible. The bishop of London bought up the entire first run of Tyndale’s printed Bible so that they could be destroyed. He was afraid if this content being available to everyone. The side effect was that this gave a guarantee to Tyndale that the entire print run would sell and that allowed him to continue on.

Shirky then said:

Abundant media can escape the hold of organizations that have significant control of scarcity….It wasn’t the existence of the Bibles that frightened the Catholic church it was the potential abundance of them that frightened them.”

And he continued:

“Even a powerful organization armed with the tools of both censorship and propaganda actually can’t do as well, in cases where it is faced with abundant media, as when it controls scarcity”

The average church, and in turn the ‘C’hurch, has control of content scarcity in that the content creators (pastors) are few in number and dwell in an expert class that presides over a pfeifdom who merely consumes that content. I believe that the average church member would love to be part of shaping the community of their church much more than they do and outside of there being more channels for communication most, like the people of Egypt, will continue to feel like they are all alone in their thoughts and ideas and never take action because they don’t believe they have the platform to distribute content that reflects their ideas and personality.

We are on the brink of seeing all this change in the church and it will be because of the open access to media that we will see a revival of some kind in our generation in the Church.

“The printing press did not cause the Protestant reformation…but it would not have been possible without the printing press. Social media did not cause the revolution in Egypt but it would not have been possible without it.”

I’m excited for what is coming and I hope that as a leader I am ready to lead in this knew reality. This could however be a painful time for leaders who are unwilling to adapt and open up the channels of content based on scarcity and allow for a peaceful transfer of power.

10 thoughts on “Dictators and Pastors or Revolutions and Revivals

  1. "Abundant media can escape the hold of organizations that have significant control of scarcity" http://j.mp/pVO1hb

    August 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm
  2. On Revolutions & Revivals: Interesting post inspired by @Cshirky’s #sxsw keynote http://t.co/FvzNzB1 #Godgeeks (via @m_vince)

    August 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm
  3. [...] saw Clay Shirky speak at SXSWi this last March and it completely blew my mind. In fact, I’ve listened to the talk no less [...]

    August 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm
  4. This post should’ve ended with a “selah”. Certainly a lot to think about here. Fascinating to think about what open sourcing could mean for the church. Thanks for turning me on to this, Vince!

    February 20, 2012 at 1:58 am
  5. You said: “I believe that the average church member would love to be part of shaping the community of their church…” This is true, and, furthermore, is the way the church is meant to operate. Alan Hirsch points out that within a given church body, there are many people who bear the various gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11, not just a select few. He says that in fact you see these gifts in the created order outside of the church. People who talk infectiously about something, good salespeople – those are the evangelists. Apostles are entrepreneurs and pioneers.

    The point he was making is that the various roles and functions within the church are meant to be shared by many, not few. Church culture is meant to be created by many. I really do hope we see a change in the Church where this is concerned, and perhaps God will use social media as one of the means.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:29 am
    1. Vince

      Imagine the people of the church actually carrying out the work of the church. Make you wonder how we got where we are today.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm
      1. From what I got to hear about what you and others are doing there in Austin, it sounds like you’re headed in that direction, and it’s exciting to hear! I would love to be part of something like that.

        February 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm
  6. [...] for bringing up a book that came to my attention a year ago when I saw Clay Shirky speak at SXSWi (check out my notes from this mind blowing talk and listen to the audio). The book is called Cognitive Surplus and the ideas in it are some of the most important concepts [...]

    February 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm

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