The tiny house movement has been a cultural “thing” for several years now and represents the leading edge of a desire to live more simply and to build lives in opposition to the prevalent consumerist culture of America. Similarly, high end food trucks have been proliferating across the nations in cities large and small. Each of these are adaptations to the emerging post-Great Recession economy which is likely to be much different from that which previously held sway from the end of the Second World War. They are adaptable, mobile, minimal and community focused. In other words, they represent the declining trust in institutions and notions of stability that under-girded the great mid-twentieth century American ideal. Also growing has been an interest in craftsmanship and the individual craftsman as an entrepreneur and engine for community development. And in New York, two local groups in cooperation with the Queens Museum, have created a tiny studio – a 150 square foot artists space that they hope will be the beginning of an artisanal renaissance, especially in cities where artists and musicians increasingly find it difficult to find affordable living and work space.
These new cultural adaptations are especially popular (it seems) to young people. But are they truly the beginning of a significant cultural shift or just a short term phase on the way to whatever the next “normal” looks like? At the recently finished General Convention, there was a definite sense that the church needs to take some risks and to try some different approaches to how it organizes itself and how it organizes and sustains communities of faith. Is there something for us to learn in this movement towards the adaptable, mobile, minimal and community focused trends apparent in the various “tiny” movements? What might tiny church look like? How would it worship, engage in service and tell the story of the faith? Do you know of any examples being tried right now? – please share if you do. How far from the way we are church today can we go and still maintain what is essential to the core of our tradition?