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What Does a VUCA World Mean for the Church?


The world is vastly different today from that of my childhood. Change is everywhere. It is constant and it is unpredictable. It’s the new normal and everyone is scrambling to keep up.

We live in a VUCA world. VUCA is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

In his book Get There Early, Bob Johansen talks to church leaders about his introduction to the term VUCA. It happened at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where upcoming military strategists prepare to lead in an unpredictable future. The church should pay heed.

Here is what I think a VUCA world means for the church:

1. We have to communicate differently.
Jesus attracted people because of how he spoke to them. We cannot deviate from the Bible but our challenge is to translate ancient and timeless truths into the language of the people. Predictability in what you say is considered a waste of time. Ideas that are relevant in a season of chaos are engaging.

2. Authenticity trumps professionalism.
I don’t mean that sloppiness is okay. But slick packaging of the same old stuff will turn people away. It is more important to be real than to be the ideal role model. Honest and sincere leaders who are struggling to live out their faith in the real world inspire hope in the hearts of their followers.

3. We must keep it people-oriented.
It’s about connecting with people at a heart level, not just educating them. If we are going through the motions of fulfilling the expectations of a religious system people will soon disconnect. We have to keep asking ourselves “why am I doing this?” If people’s names are not part of our answer we should re-evaluate.

4. We must keep it simple.
The pandemonium of our current time requires us to prioritize and stay focused on the things that matter most. Better to be really good at a few things than mediocre in a lot of things. Time and energy are limited for everyone. Let’s use them where they provide the greatest benefit.

Some would argue that the church should remain the one place in our chaotic society where there is consistency, predictability, and a respite from all the confusion and disorder. I understand the desire for an occasional escape from our topsy-turvy existence but if the church appears out of touch with the world they live in, people soon find it irrelevant to their lives and a waste of their precious time.

Question: how do you think the church can be more relevant and engaging?

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