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From Steve’s Desk: Casting Our Nets

What type of society, community, and city do you want to live in ten years’ time?
You might use words like safe, prosperous, generous, upright, free, grace filled, drug free, violence free, cancer free, caring, honouring, respectful, educated, healthy; these are the attributes that I would like to see in our society for the sake of my grandchildren.

What type of society, community, and city do you want your childrens’ children to be raised in 25 years time? How passionately you and I embrace those questions, how much weight and concern you and I place on those questions, will determine how we respond – and therefore what our city actually will look like in 10 or 25 years’ time.

Have you ever asked those questions of yourself?

Are you largely functioning from a position of mere existence? Is your life a painful process of coping, hand to mouth, payday to payday, not thinking too far ahead, putting little to no passion and investment into adding value to our community or working for change?

Living like this assumes that there is little anyone can do to change things, Jesus will return soon and take us away from the pain and the boredom…or, the government will take care of it, so I’ll vote for my favourite party…or maybe it will all pan out in the end…

Do global events bother us? Do moral decline and corporate terrorism concern us? Are we interested in world events, or have we largely abdicated our reformational, revelational responsibility for any future transformation? Does it all seem hopeless? Does our planet seem beyond redemption? Have the problems escalated to the point where they are past the point of no return?

Some might say so, but I choose not to. I wonder if even atheistic or agnostic city councillors and politicians have far more heart for community transformation than many Christians do. Their heart for people or community or change is likely what motivated most of them to get involved in the first place.

So do we think we can make a difference in our city and make it a better, safer community that it currently is? Surely this is the whole point of mission, and our commission to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:20), set the captives free, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19)

What is your Tipping Point?

In terms of social change, a tipping point is defined as that specific moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour reaches critical mass, then explodes and spreads like wildfire. For example, just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in  crime rates.

Let’s apply this to our community transformation – a task that sometimes seems too hard. What do you think would be the required percentage of people needed to change their thinking in order for a tipping point to occur? What would be required for our community to be transformed from a secular liberal society, to one that upholds sanctity of life, that values spiritual health, that protects its children, that abhors violence?

What about one that recognises biblical truth, and comes into a beautiful, rich relationship with Jesus Christ? What percentage of people might it take for that to happen?
A tipping point happened in to an ancient church in Ephesus (Acts 19:17-20). When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour. Many of those who believed came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

The most obvious answer would be a substantial majority of at least 51%, but probably 66% or even 75%. But after 2005, the USA military commissioned one of the greatest studies ever done on tipping point. They asked this question: what percentage of a community or a society or a city has to absolutely believe something about a significant ‘thing’ in order to tip the whole of society or city into embracing it so that the rest of society will follow?

What drove this question was the event of Hurricane Katrina, which caused so much devastation and loss of life in 2005. While the late arrival of the military and the slow response from the government was blamed for much of the death and destruction, apparently it was the fact that even when warnings were being given to evacuate because of the great danger of a grade five hurricane, people chose not to evacuate because they did not believe it was necessary to do so. They’d heard it all before and thought they could weather the storm. They had a false sense of security; many stayed and many died. So the United States Defence Force did this research by using every computer and mathematic system they could utilise to work out what percentage of a community has to be absolutely convinced about something that it causes a tipping point effect that everyone will embrace…

10%. Yes, ten percent.

Jesus invites us to not give up easily. What will it take for you to reach your personal tipping point, and to be part of the transformative 10%?

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