Having been a Christian leader who lived through the charismatic renewal of the 1980’s, looking back I’d have to say I’ve witnessed very few true prophetic voices. Time is the witness to prophetic proclamation and a lot of time has passed. One voice that stood out above all the rest for me was a man whom I’m quite certain wouldn’t even recognize himself as a prophet. His name is David McKenna. In the 80’s David was the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and had served as the president of Seattle Pacific University for a time before that. He would have been considered a theologian and scholar far more than a prophet, but his writings about the future of the church and his urgent call for it to prepare for rapid cultural change all proved true long after his predictions. He warned of what would come with the approaching “Age of Information”. Much of David’s thinking and writing gave credence to my book Re:Form.
I have never met David but have admired him from a distance. If you know him, please tell him how grateful I am. The following is an excerpt from the last segment of my first chapter “What Was – Prelude to Awakening”
Enters “The Age of Information” and a time of Parenthesis
In the mid-1980s, I read a book by a man named David McKenna called Mega Truth – The Church in the Age of Information. Concerning the type of prophecy which predicts things God is doing in preparation for a future event, McKenna’s book may be the most prophetic thing I’ve ever read. I felt his writing to be profound when I read it in 1986, but now, reflecting back on the things McKenna wrote 30 years ago, I am astonished at his insights and the accuracy of his projections.
In 1986, few church leaders even owned a computer. Email was just coming on line, the worldwide internet was still in the future, and social media was a complete unknown. I remember moving to Boise to plant the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in 1989. Our family was accompanied by twelve other families and a few single people who felt called to join us. One of our single guys named Ruben was a very forward-looking, progressive guy. Ruben saw the necessity of computers for the future of the church. I was still writing sermons on an electric typewriter at the time and couldn’t see it. Ignoring my thinking, Ruben brought along a used computer from our previous church for its word processor capabilities. Honestly, that computer looked like something that came from Toys R Us, but it served us well for the first year of our church plant. It’s hard to believe, but that was less than 30 years ago.
McKenna shared in his book that our culture was starting to shift from the Industrial Revolution into the Age of Information. He shared that historically, every time a culture goes through a major transition of eras, it experiences what he called “Cultural Disjuncture.” Cultural disjuncture speaks of a deep sense of unrest, despair, and hopelessness that often occurs in the undercurrents of a society during a state of transition. McKenna calls this phase of transition from era-to-era a time of “Parenthesis,” and explains that every major move of God occurs during such a time. Both the Reformation of Luther’s day and the Great Awakening of Wesley’s day were birthed at such a time.
McKenna projected that as we move into this new era, we will begin to experience cultural disjuncture, even as we did in a much smaller way during the ‘60s. If McKenna is right, and history says he is, then America is ripe for a major spiritual awakening. The Jesus Movement was a blip on the radar, comparatively. It was a small, local (primarily Southern California) revival, but far from the awakening McKenna believes could occur.
He shared that every revival and spiritual awakening starts among a demographic he called “New Lights.” The New Lights are often found on college and university campuses. They are an emerging adult generation, seeking truth for their future, and are willing to sacrifice everything to obtain it. They are radical and possess the resolve and idealism to engage in revolutions. The “New Lights” in the 21st century may well be the Millennial generation, who will be entering their college and young adult years in the 2020s.
All the events I have shared so far are things God has divinely allowed and put into place to prepare His church for such a time as now. We are presently starting to experience and observe in our nation and around the world the full manifestation of cultural disjuncture. The question will be as McKenna had stated so many years before – will the “new lights” rise to the occasion? I believe there is much work to be done.