As an avid follower of U.S. and world politics, I read a lot of politically-oriented blogs. One of my favorite is Instapundit. It is written by Glenn Reynolds, a Tennessee Law Professor. The content is right-of-center on the political spectrum, and is usually comprised of short, concise blurbs that are always informative, usually amusing, and sometimes quite bitingly sarcastic. He doesn’t restrict himself to politics, also delving into law, technology, philosophy, science and other hobbies of his.
He also wrote a book not too long ago, one of the most powerful books I’ve read recently. It’s called An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and other Goliaths.
Its point is simple, and if you’ve read any of my recent posts, you’ll understand instantly why I like it. The teaser on the back of the book closes with the sentence, “The balance of power between the individual and the organization is finally evening out. And it’s high time the Goliaths of the world pay attention, because an Army of Davids is on the move.”
Since coming out with his book, he has recognized on his blog many examples of this phenomenon taking place in our world today. He holds up Amazon, as I have, as an example of an “Army of Davids” approach to business.
He talks of an “Army of Davids” approach to reporting, an “Army of Davids” approach to intelligence analysis, and an “Army of Davids” approach to marketing. He even mentions the “Army of Davids” approach to terrorism being taken by Hezbollah and other organizations of their ilk.
There are a host of other examples, some on his blog and some in his book. One that he seems to be missing, however, is the burgeoning “Army of Davids” approach to a relationship with God.
He’s probably not focused on this particular area as much as we are, along with others like Wayne Jacobsen or Bill Kinnon, and therefore doesn’t have the window into this phenomenon that those of us who are living it are experiencing. But the Army of Davids is definitely on the move in Western churches . . . on the move in that they are headed for the nearest exit.
In the same way that file-swapping software has broken the power of the record labels over music distribution, the podcast and the blog have broken the hold of the clergy over “theology distribution.” Think of the various reasons one attends a local assembly on Sunday mornings: preaching, worship, fellowship, study of scripture, service of others, spiritual refreshment . . .
We simply don’t need a church or a pastor anymore to engage in these activities. A simple podcast like this one from our friend Wayne is just as instructive (and usually a lot more interesting) than your average three-point sermon. Heck, even many local churches make their sermons available via podcast, so if you do have a hankering for a three-point outline, take your pick from the comfort of your own home!
Similarly, worship and fellowship can take place anywhere – and in fact, I find them much more authentic and enjoyable in the comfort of my living room, or in the home of a good friend.
Scripture? Well, with the Internet we have a host of study tools at our fingertips – many even gathered on a single website to save the trouble of switching back and forth between tabs on your browser.
Service to others? There are a host of organizations to which you can donate without ever leaving your desk. Want to take a more active role? Install a link on your site and encourage others to give as well. My wife recently organized a food-drive for a sick, pregnant friend using nothing more than her email account and her car. We hardly need a church to tell us who is in need – all we have to do is look around.
As far as spiritual refreshment, don’t you find it interesting how many churches organize special “get aways” to allow men, women, children, families, singles, parents or some other specific group to get out and get spiritually refreshed through special camping trips, retreats, outings, field trips and other events? Isn’t it painfully obvious that traditional church settings aren’t fulfilling this need, and haven’t for a long time?
And isn’t that the point? Isn’t the crux of the issue that the setting doesn’t matter?? To me the whole point is that God wants a relationship with us. If that relationship takes place inside a church, well and good!
But in the age of the Army of Davids, it doesn’t have to. Maybe it never did.