The clip below is for a truly frightening movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon. As you watch it, consider that epidemics or contagions can be either negative and destructive or positive and constructive.
Con-ta-gion. From contagio (Latin) meaning to touch. 1. the spreading of disease from one individual to another by direct or indirect contact… 5. the spreading of an emotion, idea, custom, etc. from person to person until many are affected.
Here are two of my favorite books that bear on this topic…
Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, develops this idea. “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.”
Roland Allen in The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes Which Hinder It. Without using “virus” or “contagion”, he is saying something similar about the expansion of the early church.
“This then is what I mean by spontaneous expansion. I mean the expansion which follows the unexhorted and unorganized activity of individual members of the Church explaining to others the Gospel which they have found for themselves; I mean the expansion which follows the irresistible attaction of the Christian Church for men who see its ordered life, and are drawn to it by desire to discover the secret of a life which the instinctively desire to share; I mean also the expansion of the Church by the addition of new churches.
I know not how it may appear to others, but to me this unexhorted, unorganized, spontaneous expansion has a charm far beyond that of our modern highly organized missions.” p. 7
What Allen disliked in his day, almost a hundred years ago, is even more prevalent in the American church today. We seek to fulfill the Great Commission through organization and exhortation. We create programs, develop marketing plans, build buildings and organizational structures, recruit huge budgets to pay for it all. The result? The church in America continues to decline. See recent research by the Barna Group. http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/504-barna-examines-trends-in-14-religious-factors-over-20-years-1991-to-2011
The alternative? We need to return to the dynamic of the New Testament Church. A new/old paradigm. We need to learn to nurture that which is simple and spontaneous and organic and viral. We need to learn to join God in what He is doing rather than trying to “make it happen” ourselves. We need a benevolent Gospel contagion in our day. “And, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47
This is exactly the focus of the LK10 Community. We are a “community of practice” that is learning together how to join Jesus in birthing churches that are both transformational and viral. In other words, a Gospel contagion.