for the past few days ive been listening to an economist by the name of jim gilmore over at the resurgence.com and even tho that sounds like one of the most dull and uninteresting ways to spend time its turned out to be insanely worth it.
gilmore is the author of a book titled the experience economy: work is theater & every business a stage and his basic premise is that the economics of the market are on a trajectory that began with commodities and moved via customization thru goods and services to experience . he uses starbucks as one of his prime examples showing the course of the coffee bean moving thru product on grocery shelves and a cup of joe at a restaraunt to starbucks which is a place solely dedicated to the experience of drinking coffee. he also shows how the price inflates dramatically along the way proving his theory that people are willing to pay more for an experience.
for the 3 of you still reading that means that the driving factor in how people spend their money is what kind of experience is gained. stop for a moment and think about how that relates to the church in our culture.
but it doesnt stop there. gilmores trajectory moves past experience to transformation and past transformation to perfection – which he rightly claims is not the province of the market. but back up a spot and what do we have? transformation. if you customize a service as starbucks did you end up with an experience and if you customize an experience gilmore claims you end up with a transformation.
this is not something way off in the future either. its already infiltrating the market in the realms of cosmetic surgery and body art. consider that theres more to a tattoo than simply having it. ask anyone whos been inkd and you will hear a story of where and when they got it and who did it and what it means to them. and part of what it means to them is they have transformed their body by branding it. they have forever changed their persona.
(if you dont know anyone with ink ask me about mine sometime)
so what does all this mean for the church?
and how does this all relate to the gospel and evangelism in our culture?
maybe it means evangelism in our culture is not nearly as difficult as we make it out to be. granted its more than asking your coworker or neighbor to church and then hoping the pastor evangelizes them for you – which all by itself prolly frightens almost half of christians from even bothering. but the means of evangelizing our culture isnt complicated.
in the economy of transformation we find the world at our doorstep asking for bread. they may not actually come to our buildings to get it but if they realize that they are not what they want to be and are looking to be transformed then christ is the only way to bring them along the trajectory from experience thru transformation to perfection.
if i know anything about the gospel its that this is precisely what jesus is all about. having an experience with him leads to a transformation and ultimately to perfection. this is the story of anyone who is in christ. its the reason anyone can lead someone to him.
and its authentic.
its not an church-wide evangelism program or a dvd mailer or a tract stuck between wiper blades at the mall. its not even a bible left in a motel. its genuine people intentionally spending time with their neighbors and coworkers. its christ followers actively living out the incarnation by incarnating christ in the lives of those we come in contact with.
in 2 corinthians 5:17 paul said:
so if anyone is in christ he is a new creation. the old life is gone and a new one begins!
this is the gospel. the good news of transformation in christ. and we in the church can not continue to be so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we ignore the opportunity before us. its imperative that the transformation taking place in us be given all the room it needs to spill over into the lives of others.
so tonight on my knees before my king im asking for the boldness to offer people the transformation they are seeking by introducing them to christ in me. may i be an agent of change for the good of the kingdom in every possible way and may i always be ready to give a reason for the hope that i have.