Apple and Silicon Valley are the timekeepers of the 21st century (for other timekeepers, see part one of this blog). These timekeepers push us to move faster, to be innovative, and, more than anything else, provide the next product or resource to people.
Caught up in the New Time
All churches are in this new time; it is, as they say, in the water. Therefore congregations are forever trying to run faster, provide better resources for their communities and come up with the next great thing to draw people in, showing the church is genuinely relevant. While running faster, the church is faced with people who run faster to pursue their good life. As those people run, they have fewer resources to give to the church and concurrently demand more resources from the church (which means more staff, larger budgets, and more programs that make people run faster, give more, and be more innovative). All this running faster, seeking the next great innovative program, being surprisingly relevant first exhausts and finally depresses a congregation, the staff, and the pastor. They can’t keep up. Root writes,
Silicon Valley, unlike other timekeepers, holds innovations and the very compressed present as its highest good. Even if the denomination finds a draft by doubling down on the logic of the cultural timekeeper, making the local congregation into an innovation hub and the pastor into an entrepreneur (encouraging pastors and congregations to match in form and vision the timekeeper of Silicon Valley), it simply cannot keep up. The church doesn’t have access to the engines of acceleration. Our timekeeper is not satisfied with anything but more and more speed-up. The present is too compressed, and the good is too embedded in the newness of innovation to ever not push for more and more speed-up. At its core, the church isn’t facing an issue of losing people, money, or other resources. The church is in a deep deficiency of time!
Can we be put in a Slower Group?
A congregation that slips into exhaustion and depression because it can’t keep up is not able to ask to be put into a slower group. Silicon Valley is now the timekeeper and definer of the good life: being innovative, being busy, and being your authentic self. Besides, being in a slower group is another way of saying you are irrelevant. Which church wants to proclaim it is irrelevant to its community as it slowly slips away to the day it closes its doors?
So if it is not a slower group, is there another way the church can live in this world? As it turns out, there is another way to live. But to live there, the church needs to recognize another time shift. We’ll look at that time shift in part 3.