The Walking Dead season four premiere is in just a few short days. I am just one of the many people eagerly anticipating what this season will bring. I won’t bore you here, but I am sure this won’t be the last time you hear about The Walking Dead around these parts.
The popularity of zombies is without question. I love zombies because they give us a different narrative in which to think about the world. Wrapped up in the idea of the zombie apocalypse is social narrative and critique. Zombies are a uniquely western look at how society thinks the world has and hasn’t worked. The story of the zombie apocalypse also gives an amazing metaphor to evaluate how we act as a culture and as individuals. I wrote about much of this in a previous post: 3 Reasons the Church should Understand the Zombie Apocalypse.
What I want to offer you today is a companion piece. If we know Zombies are coming, how can we get ready for the apocalypse? Not literally, although I have been in some churches that would make wonderful safe houses and barricade zones. I’m talking about understanding the rise of a completely different set of behaviors, values and idea of life. An apocalyptic situation is one where life can be dated before and after. The world has completely changed in the last 10 years. We have entered an apocalyptic transition and are now in a new world.
How can we bring the gospel into this new world? How can we bring the life giving power of Christ to a culture bent on self consumption?
How Churches Can Anticipate the Zombie Apocalypse
1. Realize Things Are Different.
Are people around you behaving differently? I would say yes. While they might not be eating brains, stumbling about and making weird noises, things are different. No matter what the industry, leaders are talking about how much we have changed in a post-9/11 world. The millennial generation is coming of age and influence bringing a different set of values than we have seen in the last 60 years. Fast Company calls this Flux. Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon wrote about this years ago in Resident Aliens.
Things are different and they won’t ever be the same again.
2. Identify what has to change.
When the times are changing we must start looking at methods. What worked wonderfully for years will soon cease to even bring results. This could mean armored school buses or it could mean radically different strategies of evangelism and discipleship. In the zombie apocalypse, everything has a purpose. The end goal is realized. When we as leaders and churches best understand what absolutely needs to be done we can adapt and create new ways to talk about Jesus.
We have to have conversations about what is absolutely essential. When Earnest Shackleton led his crew off their ship and across over 600 miles of Antarctic ice he only allowed them 2lbs of personal gear. Only what was absolutely essential. When we enter into conversations filled with prayer about what is absolutely essential we are able to realize what might be holding us back. We can lighten our loads and better discern the best way to follow Jesus in faithfulness. God gives us unique missions only we can carry out. We just need to find out what the best tools are for our mission.
3. Adapt to thriving in a new environment. If we do these first two steps we will see change, in both our churches and among the people God has called us to minister too. What was once foreign is now familiar. Just realizing things are different and understanding what we needed to change will allow adaptation to this new world.
The driving force in our current age is context (I wrote about context and how it affect evangelism here). Context was the driving force behind John Wesley and his adaptations to the zombie apocalypse in 17th century England. It took him from the classrooms to the fields. If we study the early church and the movement of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s ministry we see adaptation to context. Context is everything.
If we want to thrive in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, we need to do these three steps. Our world needs us to understand how things are different, what the Gospel looks like in this different world and the kingdom example of thriving.