“Mashup” is not a term I use every day. It comes from the rap music genre in which different types of music are mixed at varying speeds to develop a new piece of music. The process transforms two or more different things into a new creation.
Several years ago, something similar happened when Japanese game creator Shigeru Miyamoto combined an accelerometer used for the deployment of automobile airbags with a video gaming system to produce the Wii.
As Joshua Cooper Ramo notes in “The Age of the Unthinkable,” Miyamoto had “mashed up” two seemingly unrelated things to create something new. He explains, “Understanding mashup logic is … the first step toward a new, deep security in which our ideas match the world around us.” In so doing, we can recombine “our policies, dreams, and ideas … to release new and unexpected power.”
Another term for this would be convergence. How do we combine various streams to produce something synergetic – more than the sum of its parts? I suggest that this is one of the arenas of opportunity for the 21st-century church.
We must find new partnerships, new combinations and new connections to make a difference in our culture. This will provide us, first of all, with a sense of empowerment as we minister in a “post-everything” context. We will no longer be limiting ourselves to ministry within the walls of the church. Second, we will release new power for ministry.
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My friend, Billy Cox, shared an example of how this worked in one situation. Ginghamburg United Methodist Church in Ohio built a new “youth center” several years ago, but it was not part of the church. Therefore, they could use sponsors like Pepsi and others to fund the “youth center” and its programming. Billy says it is a “nice building and it seemed busy when I visited there several years ago.”
Another example would be combining technology and worship. Video projectors can be used to project the words of contemporary choruses, but they can also be used to create an ever-changing environment for worship – one week the inside of a majestic cathedral and the next week the lush backdrop of a forest.
In serving the community, churches can provide space for various community outreach ministries – counseling programs, parent education, literacy training – with the idea of not simply sharing geographic space but of finding ways to benefit each other in the process.
Many churches are finding ways to combine the Internet and resourcing members for spiritual formation. For example, a church that traditionally prints Advent devotional booklets for their congregation will this year offer those devotionals as a daily message on members’ email accounts.
Some examples of convergence in the church may be radical while others may be relatively simple. The key idea is to find ways to put different ministries, services and experiences in new combinations in order to create new ways to reach out. This both empowers the church and energizes the church’s ministry.
Ircel Harrison is an associate with Pinnacle Leadership Associates and director of the Murfreesboro Center of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. A version of this column appeared previously on his blog.