Leadership Weekly posted an article called “Open Source Activists: The surprising impact when leaders tap the power of a generation of influencers,” by J.R. Kerr (posted 10/01/2009). It states that not long ago the term "open source" was common lingo among technology geeks and computer programmers but few others. However with the advent of popular websites like YouTube and Wikipedia, the masses are now experiencing the power of open source platforms. They allow ordinary people, who were once passive observers, to now create and contribute to all most anything in previously unimaginable ways.
J.R. Kerr states that the younger generation has been deeply impacted by this trend, and they now expect the church to be an open source missional platform. Its known as “Wiki-ministry” and it requires church leaders to shift from a posture of command and control, and allow the people to shape and influence the mission of the church.
Open source is everywhere and it is changing the world. Thomas Friedman's book “The World is Flat” documents the way open source is changing how software is developed and how news is reported. Past generations went to a trusted authority, like the Encyclopedia Britannica, to find answers to their questions. The new generation logs on to Wikipedia, an open source web encyclopedia that doesn't just provide answers but allows users to contribute their knowledge as well. The Apple iPhone now has thousands of user-created applications available as a result of becoming an open source platform. The younger generation expects to participate in the creation and formation of products and organizations in a way earlier generations simply did not. This is a fact that the Church cannot ignore.
We need new ways to look at and understand our congregation. Its not that our old ways are wrong, rather they are simply too limiting at times. When we start to view the situations our congregation faces as spiritual and not managerial or problematic in nature, we will respond differently to them. We must view the uneasy situations we face in the Church not as problems to be fixed but opportunities for us to see the hand of God in our midst and discern His will.
“Open source” for us in this case involves people in relationship contributing and communicating their passion and discernment with one another. It involves fact finding, information gathering, with each one trying to figure out how to ride the wave God is sending our way. God is in the business of making waves. In His sovereignty He chooses the areas of change and influence for His Church. Through His stirring He captures our attention for the need to engage and change. In a healthy situation the Church will declare: “SURF’s UP!” and invite everyone to the beach of discernment and planning.
We currently have a generational gap in the leadership of WHFC. There is a missing generation who should be poised to assume headship of the congregation but are not. How do we engage them? How do we get them to the beach of discernment and planning with us? How do we open source with them for the health of our congregation? Ideas?