In 1971, Alvin Toffler predicted in Future Shock that an “experiential industry” was coming in which people would spend a large percentage of their income on achieving amazing experiences. Just as he predicted, the experience economy has emerged, in which people want more for their money than just a product or a service. They want memorable, even transformational experiences! (See Pine & Gilmore, The Experience Economy).
In my industry, higher education, we understand that students want more than just a job credential. They want a whole life-changing experience, complete with the formation of life-long networks of friends and mentors to “do life together” with them. What pleasure we get from providing it!
Kingdom networkers also strive to create a powerful, life-changing experience through the services they offer to people, ultimately bringing them into a saving relationship with God. At times, we may get the privilege of leading someone directly to Jesus, in whom they will find an Eternal Life that starts now. No one will ever forget the moment Jesus saved them and they were born again. But often, leading people to Jesus involves a lot of experiences on the way to an eventual decision to follow Christ (or even a realization that such a decision has gradually ocurred.)
“Get Saved Quick Schemes” that expect people to listen to a rational message and make an immediate decision to follow Christ represents the old, pre-Future Shock, modernistic economy of rational choice about scarce goods and services. That approach may or may not have worked in the past. (It is commonly said that only 1 in 10 people who make such decisions to follow Christ actually become disciples). But in today’s experience-oriented world, it often takes a rich, sustained experience of friendship or community and a series of exposures to the presence of God to bring people to a truly transforming encounter with Christ.
Today’s Kingdom networkers recognize that a deep, qualitative dimension of personal engagement should characterize their interactions with people. Their networking involves more than just an exchange of contact data and a rational process of weighing the benefits of interaction. They do their work best when they walk in the Spirit, empowered by Jesus not only to do singularly miraculous, occasional deeds, but also to express miraculous love continually in multiple small ways that pave a path to Jesus for the people they meet.
For more, see The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus (My Healthy Church, 2013). Pre-order it in paperback or Kindle editions at http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Net-Learning-ebook/dp/B00EDO1F6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376544126&sr=8-2&keywords=Joseph+Castleberry.
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Joseph Castleberry, President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington, is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.