I sometimes wonder if our evangelical
churches are aware of local demographics when they form their ambitious
Tom Sine in
Mustard Seed Versus McWorld warned:
We are living in a
world changing at blinding speed and yet in our homes, churches and
Christian colleges we unconsciously prepare our young to live and serve God
in the world their parents grew up in….As a consequence of leaders failing
to lead with foresight, churches and Christian organisations have, in recent
years, been repeatedly hammered by change and missed a lot of opportunities
to bring the gospel of Christ to a changing world. Instead of driving into
the future with our eyes fixed firmly on our rear-view mirrors we need a new
generation of leaders who learn to lead with foresight.
In my own life I’ve missed the future
often. As a freelance journalist in Tokyo in the early 1980s, I sometimes
contributed restaurant and store reviews to local tourist publications. Once
I was asked to write a review of an electronics store that sold duty-free
items to tourists. But what do you say about an electronics store? Tokyo is
full of them, each the same as the other.
I asked the manager to point out all the
new products in the store. He showed me a new tape recorder from Sony. It
was weird. You couldn’t even record on it. And it didn’t have proper
speakers. You had to put on a pair of special headphones to listen to tapes.
I don’t recall my exact words, but I think I wrote something sarcastic,
wondering how on earth Sony could expect anyone to buy a tape recorder that
didn’t record and which lacked proper speakers.
The tape recorder was of course the newly
launched Sony Walkman, which went on to become one of Sony’s most
popular-ever new products.
Later I joined the Tokyo branch of a
British bank. We were continually astonished at the rapid ascent during the
1980s of the Tokyo stock market. When the Nikkei Stock Average was around
the 20,000 mark, and looking far too high already, one of my bosses returned
from a trip to London. “Some fund managers reckon the market’s headed for
25,000,” he told us. We laughed. Unbelievable, we thought.
In fact, the market didn’t stop climbing
until it had nearly touched 40,000. It was one of the biggest financial
bubbles in world history.
Later, when stocks were tumbling, and the
market had dropped to around 35,000, a Swiss fund manager told us he’d been
examining some charts. “The market will eventually bottom at around 6,000,”
he said. Unbelievable, we again thought.
Check your newspapers. Yesterday, the
Nikkei Stock Average closed at 8,460.
Christians too often adopt a “put your
faith in God and everything will be okay” attitude. That is, of course, not
wrong. (After all, there is nothing new under the sun.) Or we concentrate on
big picture scenarios like the Middle East.
And repeatedly we get hammered by change.
Meanwhile, everyone else in Melbourne
seems to be discussing local real estate prices. Perhaps Christians too
should talk more often on this topic.
November 12th, 2002