In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg was making polished metal mirrors. Not Bibles. He had taken a considerable amount of money from investors and was gearing up for a major exhibit featuring relics of Emperor Charlemagne. But disaster struck. A major flood hit the city and the exhibit was postponed for an entire year. Gutenberg was out of money and out of time. But he was not out of ideas!
It was time for something new.
In order to keep the investors off his back, Gutenberg promised to share a “secret”. A year later, he unveiled this secret. Titled “Art and enterprise” (English translation- He was German), this was Gutenberg’s research on a new technology: printing. It was another decade before a press was in operation and 12 years before Gutenberg began his now famous Bible project. But in 1455, the first mass production Bible- the 42-line Bible- was finished.
This is much more than a random illustration of a man forced to create something when his back was against the wall. There is something greater going on here.
You may not realize this, but there is a lot of talk today about Gutenberg and his printing press. You want to take a guess as to why?
Go ahead. I’ll give you a second…
The internet. More specifically, blogging and social media. See, for many of us, we just think that we are having some fun posting about our lives and looking at our friend’s pictures.
But those who study culture see things a little differently. To better understand this, let’s take a look back at Gutenberg.
Gutenberg almost single-handedly kicked of the Modern Age with his printing press. The Modern Age is defined by intellect and education. People had an insatiable hunger for knowledge and science. This was more than a neat little tool to print books faster. It was a printing revolution! One famous historian said that this printing press was an “agent of change” for the entire globe!
Back to the future. (I was going to say “back to the present”, but I try and reference Marty McFly whenever possible!)
Many believe that social media and the internet are influencing our world in the same exact way Gutenberg affected his world in the 1450’s.
This is huge! Our children are literally processing information differently because of their computers and smart phones. This is more than a fun little piece of technology. A new era has emerged. We are no longer modern. We are postmodern. Now, this isn’t new information. We have known this for some time. But here is my issue…
I STILL visit churches that have no idea how to reach younger generations. I still see church after church that acts like this is the Modern Age. I still see churches that focus on education over relationship.
Relationships are boss! Experience is boss! Trust is boss! (For those who don’t understand, replace “boss” with “king”)
Is education important?
Knowledge is great. But head knowledge is becoming less valuable. People now value experience, connection and collaboration.
Here is the truth: The Church is losing ground in America. We cannot keep holding on to the fact that we were founded on religious values. That’s like remembering that your boat used to be seaworthy while it is sinking from a huge hole. You need to fix the hole!
The Church is in desperate need of something new!
I’m not even sure what that is supposed to be. I have some ideas. And maybe you do as well. That is one of the major reasons I have started this Phosphorus Project- so I can hear your ideas and share some of my own.
We are living in a new age. Things are changing. People are changing. Will we sit back and simply talk about the failures that are taking place right in front of our eyes? Or will we stand up and do something? Will we create new things? Will we try? Will we be willing to fail?
I know I am ready to take a few risks. I hope you join me!
What are some ideas that you have about how the Church can change? How can we stop the ship from sinking? How can we reach out to this culture?