Archive for the writing Category

The Near Future of the Bible: Collide Magazine Article

Posted in collide magazine, future of the Bible, life of linne, writing on August 17, 2009 by Aaron

Recently I had the chance to write an article for Collide Magazine that is the sum of my thoughts in the year 2008: The Near-Future of the Bible.  Through conversations with friends, attending and speaking at conferences, and spending time working on a yet-to-be-finished sci-fi novel, I began to craft a vision in my head of what the future of the Bible might look like.  Amazingly enough, Scott was kind enough to let me put some of those thoughts into a few words… and then thought they were worth printing.

Fast forward a few months, and the article is now available online for your reading pleasure by clicking this link.

If you’ve been around me the past few weeks, you know how important I think this kind of work is, and how happy I am to be working at a company who sees value in exploring these ideas and possibilities.  Check out the article and please, let me know your thoughts!

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Why the Future Matters for the Church

Posted in freelance, future, kevin kelly, life of linne, Peter Bishop, writing with tags , , , on February 4, 2009 by Aaron
This article was originally written for a magazine that focuses on the ministry of church Deacons, but could very easily stand as an overview of why I feel thinking about the future is so incredibly important for today’s church.  The article, written in March of 2008, is now in publication but was heavily edited for space in the actual magazine.  I have been given permission to republish the article here, in it’s entirety.  Due to the editing it is a very different article than saw print and, per the editor-in-chief’s request, should not be associated with the originating magazine.  I am very thankful for the opportunity to publish the article in it’s entirety here.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a Deacon can change from church to church.  Some deacons may be involved in benevolence, while others may be making administrative decisions.  The Deacon Handbook for First Baptist Church, Garland, Texas (pdf), lists three of the most important responsibilities a Deacon might have:    

  1. To lead the church in the achievement of its mission
  2. To minister the Gospel to believers and unbelievers
  3. To care for the church’s members and other in the community

One underlying element to these responsibilities is the need to not only take care of the needs of the Church and her people today, but their needs for tomorrow and the years to come.  To fully appreciate the responsibility of deaconship, one must consider that the church will always need leadership and must think about how today’s missions and ministries will impact not only your congregation, but the generations to come.

The trouble for many church leaders is finding productive ways to anticipate the future.  We know the ending – the Bible contains a wonderful book of prophecy for end times – but the time between the resurrection of Christ and His second coming is full of years and advances the disciples never anticipated.  The fact that I can download the Bible over a cell phone network (nevermind the fact that I can readily read one or purchase one) would have confounded even the writers of the letters that make up the New Testament.  The availability of the Gospel is exponential to 2000 years ago; as is the indecency of pornography, the villainy of murder and the diversity of world religions.

And yet, the writings and inspired truths of the New Testament speaks to us even today.  The works and morality thereof were timeless.  The seeds sown 2000 years ago were written not only for the present but also for the future.  The question that follows then, is simple: what are we doing today to prepare for the future?

Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, writes of his concern for Christianity’s lack of concern for the future in his article, The Next 1000 Years of Christianity:

In a fast-paced time when the future overruns the present every day, when the young spend more time inhabiting what is coming than what is happening, when every corporation and secular institution has a future strategy, the only large entity lacking alternatives for the future is the Christian church. It is still surrendering the future to science fiction authors, corporations, new agers, technologists, and all who understand that we make the future by inventing it.

If we have the freedom to consider what Christianity and the world might look like for our children, should we not consider our children’s children?  Our great-great grandchildren?  

According to research by David Aikman, former Beijing Bureau Chief for Time Magazine, “at the present rate of growth in the number of Christians… it is possible that Christians will constitute 20 to 30 percent of China’s population in three decades” (Jesus in Beijing, 2003, 287).  Taking that number the next step, Kelly clarifies that “given the speed of church growth in Korea and China, and extending that another 500 years, by the year 2500 the world might identify Christianity as primarily an Asian thing” (2007).  In other words, given the current trends, in just a few short generations Christianity will be completely different.

Two of the leading thinkers in the area of studying the Future are Dr. Peter Bishop and Andy Hines, editors of “Thinking about the Future.”  In their text, Bishop and Hines explain that

the purpose of looking to the future is to understand the possibilities ahead in order to make more informed decisions in the present.  Good futures work reduces the risk of being surprised or blindsided.  It can build momentum towards more favorable pathways and away from unfavorable ones (2006, 29).

Bishop and Hines have a clear goal for their futures studies – to help make a better today.  Can we as church leaders make a better today by considering tomorrow?

Bishop and Hines, as a part of the Association of Professional Futurists, have outlined a fairly robust method for considering the future and applying it to the present.  The first – and perhaps most important step – is the framing of the topic of study.  This article has, so far, been mostly framing a perspective about the need for Christianity and the future.  We can consider now that Christianity will change within the next 500 years and, hopefully, we see a need for understanding the impact of those changes today.

Being a part of the framing process is one of the most influential responsibilities to culture that a Christian can undertake.  Many culture shifting conversations and issues are handled by niche strategists and specialist in their area, defining questions and issues to any topic before it become mainstream.  Years of research proving the cloning was feasible we undertaken before the reality was ever covered by Time magazine.  GLBT groups were fighting legal battles for decades before MTV launched the LOGO network.  There are conversations that are nearing public consumption today (pedophilia, cybernetic enhancements, the church of Scientology) that many Christians are oblivious to and have not been involved in.  By not being a part of these conversations – by not protecting the future 20 years ago – our lives are impacted by the cultural shifts that the church was too late to have any real influence over.

After setting up perspectives and research on any given topic to frame it, there are three steps for research to any formal forecasting: scanning, forecasting, and visioneering.  Scanning is the process of putting the pieces together of separate stories.  For example, connecting the rising cost of gas and the geographical locations of churches may lead to planning for a multi-site church campus.

Forecasting deciding upon what the possible futures may be for your given topic, while visioneering is interpreting what implications that future might have.  If China becomes the seat of Christianity, what does that mean for America?  If China is still persecuting the church in 2500, will that mean that the majority of Christianity will be a part of the persecuted church?  Are we preparing ourselves and our children for the reality of religious persecution?

Finally, a formal strategic document would contain two sections on resolution: planning and acting.  If we determine that the future is one we should be prepared for or should alter, how do we go about doing so?  And, if we have a plan, how do we communicate and follow through with that plan?

Enlightened with the idea that we can – and should – think about the future puts a burden on us as leaders in our local church.  What are the plans we have made to impact our community not simply today, but in thirty years from now.  Will you have resigned as Deacon and enjoy the senior adult ministries at your church, or will you have moved on to some other community where someone else is (hopefully) thinking about your future even now?  Will we fear for our children on topics we chose to ignore today when they rear their ramifications in a few short decades, or will we be able to smile at the alternatives we planned and prepared for?

Wendell Bell explained the pain of not thinking about the future rather eloquently:

Many human capactities in any society remain undeveloped and unrealized, that is, most people never develop more than a small fraction of their potential for learning and innovation.  They generally fail to see the possibilities for change within themselves.  As adults, people tend to trudge through lifechanged tot he routines of everyday behavior that they have learned, oblivious to the more challenging and desirable alternatives open to them.  This is at least partly because most of them have not been taught to look at the world as it could be.  They have not been taught to search beyond the cultural conventions and manners of their own groups for possibilities either for their own personal futures or for their society’s future. (Foundations of Futures Studies, 2007, 77)

If we as leaders are given the responsibilities to lead the church in the achievement of its mission, to minister the Gospel to believers and unbelievers, and to care for the church’s members and other in the community, then we must not simply think about today and tomorrow, but of next year and the next generation.  We must continue to strive to search beyond “cultural conventions” and look beyond our “own groups” and find, and prepare, a future for the Church and her members.

New Deacon Magazine Article: Why the Future Matters

Posted in freelance, writing with tags on January 27, 2009 by Aaron

I think one of the most edifying things for a writer is seeing their words in actual print.  I get giddy with excitement whenever something I wrote shows up in my mailbox for me to thumb through.  LifeWay’s magazine cycle is WAY ahead, so typically you’re writing almost three quarters ahead of time.  This article that I wrote for Deacon Magazine, “Why the Future Matters” then got delayed an issue, so this article has been waiting for just over a year to see print.  Welcome to the world, little sliver of my thoughts; I hope your readers like you!

Deacon Magazine Future Article

Technology at Rural Churches Article

Posted in collide magazine, writing on October 23, 2008 by Aaron

Hey… someone you know wrote an article about the technology needs and uses at rural churches for Collide Magazine. If you missed the print version, you can check it out online.

Rural Technology by Aaron Linne

Rural Technology by Aaron Linne

New Media Article for Relevant Magazine’s Neue Quarterly

Posted in freelance, neue quarterly, new media for ministries, writing with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2008 by Aaron

A while back I had a post about an article I was writing for Neue Quarterly.
Today I’m proud to say that the premiere issue of Neue Quarterly is available for reading online, from the Neue website.  Click into the magazine image on the page, or click here to get into it directly.
My article is on page 46.  I’m pretty proud of the work (even though they cut out quite a bit… I definately over-wrote and did a bit too much philosophizing in the original, uncut version) – let me know what you think!

(And a special thanks for Cynthia Ware letting me know that Tall Skinny Kiwi had posted about it… I didn’t even know it was online yet!  I got scooped on my own article!)

When the Editor Tells You to Change

Posted in blogging, life of linne, neue quarterly, writing with tags , on June 17, 2008 by Aaron

I have been asked to be a part of the premiere issue of Relevant Network’s first issue of their new resource for leader, Neue.  I’m honored to take part, as I truly believe this is going to be incredible resource for leaders.  However, because this is the first issue for the resource, I’m having a bit of trouble finding the right voice for my article.

My initial take on the topic (new media for ministies) was to approach it from a philosophical point of view.  I blog regularly, I create videos, I’m working on my own personal metanarrative stories, I’m utilizing micromessaging for LIfeWay content… I’m deep in the trenches of utilizing new media on a regular basis.  So, what interested me was something a bit more abstract, talking about some of the history of media and how we got to “new media,” and then connecting the two to see a bit why we do new media the way we do… and, thus, how we should do it.

My editor, the wonderfully patient Corene Isreal at Relevant Networks, wasn’t interested in all that.  😉

The great thing about working with an editor like Corene is that she is able to both uplift me in what I’ve done right but also sternly let me know what she’s looking for.  The fact of the matter is they have a plan and an image for their product; if I’m going to tell my message the two need to match.

I think the key for any freelance writer that’s starting out is a willingness to be teachable and flexible.  I know the messages that are important to my heart and threads of them will naturally come out in anything I write.  Corene, however, knows what she wanted for this article, and waxing philosophically about the history of media and the cultural concepts behind new media was not it.

To quote Corene’s first round of feedback for me:

In general, you should give specific examples of churches, websites, blogs, etc., that are doing cutting-edge things. As someone who knows a lot about new media, you likely come into contact with or know about a lot of innovative things happening. When you talk about blogs, for examples, give examples of some churches/ministries that are doing some creative and cool things and talk about why. Same with the other sections. Be specific and allow people to really hone in on what you’re talking about.

Yeah, that’s totally what I didn’t do.  Oops.

It’s tough for me because of the dreaded “curse of knowledge” – like she said, I come into contact with innovative things that are happening all the time.  But, at my pace of life, what was innovative a three months ago is copied and processed and old hat already.  Writing this article really made me stop and think: if I could only point someone to a few faith-based blogs as prime examples of what TO do, what would I include?

I like that Corene challenged me and knew that I had the answers in me, it just took some massaging to get me to slow down and catch her vision.  I like that my article is going to fit with the flow and tone of the rest of the product.  I like that what I have written is something that may actually help church leaders dip their toes into the blogging world instead of me speaking a language that doesn’t really connect yet.

I like that my editor told me to change.

Launching Satellites: Going Multi-Site

Posted in collide magazine, life of linne, writing with tags , , on May 14, 2008 by Aaron

Lauching Satellites, my first article for Collide Magazine, is now available on their website. The article features stories of how various churches went multi-site, including North Coast Church in Vista, CA, McLean Bible Church in McLean, VA, and Long Hollow Baptist Church right outside of Nashville.  Check it out!