if you are looking for info on the everything must change tour, go here
DISCLAIMER: I am a book (and blog) nerd who has been involved on the edges of what is often referred to as the phenomenon that is the "emerging church". It is likely that a phone booth could contain the number of other people as fascinated by this intersection of change & media as I am. If this bores you, the next week might be a good time to look at some other good blogs.
So, let's start with the title:
Imagine for a minute a conference in Nashville, where the author meets with the publisher, his editor, someone from marketing and likely a sales guy. It could be San Diego or Grand Rapids or Colorado Springs or even Dallas. But this imaginary tale is set in Nashville:
The author weaves a tale of a trip to the deepest part of a continent wrapped in tragedy and vibrancy. The publishers could be forgiven if they wonder - "we paid a gazillion dollar advance for a travel book ?". The author the locates a specific interaction in Burundi. Later, the marketing woman will look up the country - it is the the poorest country on the planet, landlocked and mired in tribal strife. It was founded in the 16th century as a refuge for pygmies. She likely thinks to herself "people move to Rwanda to get away from this place - Rwanda !".
The conference room is sleek and air-conditioned, festooned with a fruit plate and pitchers of fresh juice. The author seems like he is working up to the point of the story, focussing on his daughter and a local friend travelling to meet with church leaders in Burundi. The story slows down as the author frames a good news story - a Gospel moment - amidst the pain and hopelessness of the poorest country in the world.
Nashville is a place that traffics in story-telling and in Gospel moments. In dark lonely spaces like recording studios and pulpits, that high, lonesome sound of redemption is as common place as RC Cola and the rumble of the AC fighting the humidity. The people in this conference room make their livings - nice livelihoods, with houses in the burbs and safe school for their kids - they pay their way with story-telling. Their initial discomfort with what they've heard of this author, coupled with the financial impact of their commitment to this book, fade away as he comes around to their bread & butter. This story is about to get good.
The author does something at this point in the story that they have been warned about. He gently subverts. Just like that. He frames the Gospel as a here and now thing, heaven as a current state. No sin management or death prep, to paraphrase a noted Baptist. And then he quick cuts, from a peak of commercialism in "Music City" to the poorest country in the world, Burundi.
A local Burundi woman - Justine is her name - reacts to the this subversion in her own experience of the Gospel story with a simple statement
“Everything must change.”
That is, if Jesus’ message of the kingdom is true, everything must change.
3 words have never consumed so much oxygen in a conference room. People glance away from one another, as if meaning can be found on the tops of their shoes. The one who writes the checks fidgets with her watch, hoping that she can make that early afternoon conference call, wishing she did not know she needed to say something.
It would not matter if she had kept her mouth shut. Everyone in that room knew that their book had a title, that the biggest book on their fall list had a name, that over the next 9 months they would have no choice but to stay with those 3 words.
She straightens her skirt, sits up in her expensive chair, clears her throat and told the group what they knew already
“Everything must change.”
That's the title.