Doug Pagitt came upon my radar a number of years ago when the emergent church scene was taking over the church world. Doug is recognized as one of the many leaders of that shift. Having hung around that conversation for many years and making friends with many of the players I got meet up with Doug and converse with him a number of times. As a person I’ve come to really appreciate Doug and his voice in church renewal. We had a bunch of agreement points on church, the emergent conversation and spiritual formation for being from differing tribes of the Christian faith. Currently Doug is the pastor of Solomon’s Porch, which is a case study for many wanting to understand how church might look in emerging contexts. Doug highlights his church as well as some others (I’m also familiar with) in his new book, “Church in the Inventive Age.” So this review will be overwhelmingly biased in a supportive manner, but I hope to give you some reasons why its worthy of your time & money.
I have read a number of books in my last few years that needed to end looooong before they ever did. One seminary professor told me that most theology books have all you need to know within the introduction. This is true in too many cases. Church in the Inventive Age is a great succinct size as books go. I was able to digest it within one seating (which was a plane flight to Dallas, plus a snow diversion). Doug spends his introduction “trying” to set up a “relationship” between him & you the reader, which he claims is limited, but an attempt none-the-less. Then it is on with the crux of the book and what we are looking at as a generation of leaders moving into a new age of being.
Doug frames that we have had a series of “ages” that we have lived in. Back at the turn of the 20th century we had the Industrial age then we moved into the Informational age where we have resided until the most recent of years. Now we are shifting into what he is calling the Inventive Age. Inventive age markers show up as we have a culture of creativity and niche community. Going are the days that just being knowledgeable is enough, people & communities are wanting more.
Doug gets into how we might see change come about. In prior ages we would replicate what has worked in other cases in our church family. In the Inventive Age we will need to be more sensitive and aware that change is unique to each community and church congregation. Doug highlights what would be the difference in being a church “in” and “with” the Inventive Age. If you read Barna’s Revolution, he gives some similar caution tale of saying, if you can’t get on board, don’t be a hater (my word) on Inventive Age churches and just get out of the way knowing you are still part of the Informational Age.
I’ve already given away my copy (actually within 24hours of reading) to a church leader that I highly respect, know would appreciate it, and be able to help share with other leaders of our church in a constructive framework. The cost for the books is right around 10 dollars and it is a quick enough read that you can discern through it as a church leadership team to identify what you are as a church body (or youth ministry) and what/how might help you become a player in the Inventive Age.
If you are just curious, I’m recommending it. If skeptical, it won’t suck you life’s energy to give a differing perspective some thought. It isn’t so academic you need to bring out your handy book of theological terms to translate either, which I appreciated immensely.
Gavin Richardson is Digital Community Builder for YouthWorker Movement. He has been in youth work for almost two decades now, has been a writer and consultant on numerous internet and published projects for the church. He’s often a speaker around the country on church communications and community building. His current projects are working on developing online Youth Disciple Groups and finishing a new book “Sticky Sheep.” If you ask, he will say that he is a “misfit” of the church. He lives in Nashville with his wife Erin, son Brooks and two dogs (Coe & Crimson). You can connect with Gavin (and he’s totally cool with that) through http://about.me/gavoweb.