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Church in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt

by Rev. Dave Sigmund

Dave Sigmund     Think about our lives in present-day modern culture.  Nearly everything that touches our lives was invented or created in the last 200 years, from the food we eat and how it is produced, to the way we get to and from our jobs, even the jobs and careers we have, and how you are reading this online article right now on a piece of advance technology. We live in the midst of an ever evolving and changing world. And the pace of change is quickening and is affecting every aspect of our world today.

      In his book Church in the Inventive Age author Doug Pagitt discusses the great cultural change that is taking place all around us and how it is and will impact the Church.  This book is a great conversation starter and a fast and quick read.  It draws out some of the wider contours of cultural history from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age to the Information Age and how the Church has navigated these historic cultural shifts.  With each age has come a change in what we think, what we value, what we do, and how we do it.  Pagitt then turns his discussion the new era he calls the Inventive Age.

      Unlike a classic textbook that says, “This is the answer,” this book invites us, the reader, into the cultural journey of the Inventive Age and calls upon us to be creative participants in the journey of doing and being the Church.  The key values of the Inventive age are creativity, participation, and inclusively.  Living in the Inventive Age is not optional.

     One of the things I found most useful and helpful was Pagitt’s encouragement to action, either as a church “for,” “with,” or “as” the Inventive Age.  He diagrams out some key shapes of what that looks like in an easy to understand chart format (page 108).  One of the big “take-aways” for me was that there is space for everyone in the Inventive Age.

     He ends his book with a couple examples of Christian communities that Pagitt felt embodied what it means to be church in the Inventive Age.  One was a totally online church in Second Life, a virtual computer world accessed over the Internet.  While I was thankful for the examples I felt there was a rather large gap between them and what our everyday church experiences are like.  Maybe that was the point; these communities function “as” Inventive Age communities.  Yet I know there are examples of UCC faith communities that are Inventive Age churches or are ministering to their respective contexts “for,” “with,” or “as” the Inventive Age.  I think it would be incredibly helpful and inspiring to us in the UCC to have those examples lifted up.

     As a person in the Search and Call process I found this book hopeful and encouraging. I highly recommend it to all our churches and leaders, from laity to clergy. It’s clear and concise and can be a great conversation starter not only within our local context but also in our Association and Conference discussions as we be and become a church “for,” “with,” or “as” the Inventive Age.

David Sigmund

 David Sigmund maintains his own website to aide him in his search process for a ministry position in the UCC.  It can be found at www.MyMinistrySearch.com

(If anyone is interested in discussing more about the online church mentioned in this book or UCC examples of Inventive Age churches please feel free to either contact David directly at david@MyMinistrySearch.com or respond to a discussion started regarding this book on our Conference Facebook page.)

 Doug Pagitt is the founder of Solomon’s Porch, a holistic missional Christian community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of numerous books and hosts a weekly radio show. Doug speaks and consults on issues of postmodern culture, social systems, and Christianity. You can more information about Doug at dougpagitt.com.

Doug Pagiss will be hosting a seminar on October 20, 2010 at First Congregational Church, UCC in Pasadena.  Click here for more information.


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