In HOPE 7.6                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

In the last "In HOPE" I mentioned a book by Shane Hipps, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture (Zondervan, 2005). Hipps' assessment of the fundamental shift in worldview that we see happening around us (and feel happening within us), jolts us awake. His book may radically change the way you do or view ministry.

Hope Happenings

This weekend, Hope International University's Music Department presents Once Upon a Mattress, a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's fairytale The Princess and the Pea. There will be nightly shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The University Board of Trustees also convenes today and tomorrow for their Spring meeting. They have much to consider, as always, and would appreciate your prayerful support.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

"As images displace the written word for communication, our thinking patterns and preferences change. An image shows us the world as it is -- an array of ambiguity and mystery. It does not explain or organize the world the way language can. As printing wanes, so also does our preoccupation with creating categories."  -- Shane Hipps, 2005. 

Words & Images

The tectonic plates of our culture have shifted. While we may never write a eulogy for the age of the written word -- which implicitly taught us to think linearly, rationally, and logically -- a new day has dawned.

Images, symbols, pictures, and metaphors form the new language of our culture. We no longer describe something, we snap a picture with the cell-phone and email it. Companies don't add their names to advertisments. They simply flash their logo. The phenomenal rise of desktop icons, YouTube, My Space, and ten thousand other graphics-based elements in our lives, is dramatically changing our thinking patterns.

These changes carry enormous implications for the gospel and the church in the West in the next 20 years. Let me suggest -- in no particular order -- just a handful of changes already in motion.

First, three-point deductive sermons will appeal to smaller and smaller numbers of people. Classic expository sermons will wilt on the vine, not because they lack accuracy, but because they require uncommon thought processes from the audience.

Second, evangelism will largely fail if it remains dependent on apologetics or convincing people of a plan of salvation. The plan will need to be replaced by the story and we'll need to appeal to the heart more than the head. Furthermore, evangelistic images will undergo dramatic change - from warfare images to gardening ones, from "winning souls" language to "nurturing souls" language.

Third, we can expect greater interest in multi-sensory worship experiences. A few songs and a sermon - all done in nice order and with polish - will become less and less attractive. The emerging generation will desire more participation than performance, more stories than lectures, more visual stimulation than cerebral presentations. And the visuals must be iconic, not Powerpoint presentations loaded with words.

Fourth, we should prepare for much more egalitarian churches, where power and responsibility is not vested in paid staff and elected Boards but shared throughout the congregation. The Internet has made everyone an authority and altered the perceived need for experts in the Kingdom. Knowledge is power and the masses can now access the knowledge they want with the click of a button.

Our graphic interface culture will dramatically change the shape, face, and perhaps theology of the church. As images open the door to ambiguity, mystery, and personal interpretation, they also make our thinking more Eastern than Western.

Need we fear these changes? Not at all. The gospel was birthed in such circumstances. Is rationalism completely dead? Not at all. But be prepared. What lies ahead is unlike anything any of us has seen.

Let's be like the men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32). Opportunities abound!



Want to chat more on a topic? Hit "Reply" and share your thoughts.

If you would like to subscribe to "In HOPE" simply email [email protected] and write "Subscribe to In HOPE" in the subject line. This is a free service; no advertisments; no sharing of the e-list. Unsubscribe in the same way.

For back issues of "In HOPE" (2005-2007) go to

David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.