over the past few weeks, i’ve really been stuck on some things.
we moved here to the great state fifteen years ago. after 40 years in socal, the contrast was pretty vivid. oh, people are still people. and problems and needs and situations that folks find themselves in are the same pretty much everywhere i go. no…the contrast was more of a practical, day-to-day kind of thing.
when we moved here, i remember feeling like i had stepped into someplace totally different. the pace was so slow. not that i minded! places didn’t stay open late. people drove slower. wanda and i started taking drives in the country. really.
in 1995, the mall was closed on sundays. wednesday nights were church nights. no school events. no youth sports activities. most people worked close to home…or at least closer than they do now. the economy seemed stable.
they prayed over the loudspeaker at lewisville high school before football games. i had never heard that before.
compared to where we had come from, people here had tons of negotiable time. we started doing youth ministry activities all the time. sunday nights big group stuff. wednesday night bible study. discipleship groups on weeknights. weekly leader’s meetings. people who did youth ministry at north point committed four nights a week. every week!
but things have changed. a lot.
the slow, easy, comfortable pace that we moved to fifteen years ago blew up. big time. this is no longer the bible belt that it used to be. little ole lewisville is now a multi-cultural, multi-religion community. sundays are no longer sacred. wednesdays are just like any other day of the week. work, school, sports, and leisure are fair game all week long.
with the instability of the economy, people look at jobs differently. people no longer choose jobs that support and foster lifestyles and life values that are important. people take jobs because those jobs may be the only ones that are available. they work longer hours and go the extra mile, hoping to do something to insure their job security.
thanks to the lunacy of all my socal brethren (and all others like them), great staters now know it’s perfectly acceptable to live an hour away from work and a two-hour commute daily is worth it…in order to get that house. and don’t get me started on the demands of maintaining houses! because time is at such a premium, people are now using negotiable time for the non-negotiables of lawn mowing and fence building. i get it. sheesh…i do it.
the school system trumps every other system in our culture. class ranking is king. getting into the right university is what matters. securing scholarship money is worth almost any price. parents are putting little precious into more and more demanding academic programs at younger and younger ages. they don’t want them to fall behind the other pre-schoolers and the elusive invite to A&M or UT.
school activities (sports, band, choir, drama, academics) can command virtually any dollar figure or schedule demand and parents are powerless to fight back. hours before school…hours after school…hours on the weekends. there is virtually no restraint.
kids are enrolled in extra-curricular activities at younger and younger ages to give them a chance to get ahead. select teams…which existed for only an elite few when we first arrived…are available for all. if kids don’t have private instruction and top-notch tutoring, they will never get ahead. and families pay for it with time and money out the whazoo!
fifteen years ago, we had an antenna on our new (to us), old town lewisville mansion. we got eight channels…plus all the spanish speaking and goofy religious channels we could handle. now, we have over 100 channels…on demand movies…and the potential of watching every sporting activity known to mankind…24 hours a day. i mean really, who doesn’t want to watch re-runs of american gladiator?
although the internet actually dates back to the 50’s, practical internet usage began to explode right around the time we moved here. by 2000, it began to seriously affect the way people lived. now, it dominates and has changed life as we know it. access to information has revolutionized how we do business and interact with the world. we may think it has made us better time managers, but really, it has simply given us access to more and more things to do with our time.
we got our first cell phone in 1997. it changed everything. we could be gone longer and farther than ever…and yet remained connected. sort of. the value of face to face began to vanish and we have never looked back. cell phones to email to social networking to texting to tweeting to whatever is around the corner. communication and connection has been redefined forever.
in the midst of all the change, where is the church? where is time to help and give and build relationships and invest our lives in the most important task of existence…to know god and serve him?
more on this later. i think i’m just getting started.