I had a big “Aha” moment early on that motivated much of what I am now doing in connecting the early church, and its model as the body of Christ, and the activity of younger generations today around me. The early church’s model of “sharing everything together” was exactly what I saw the younger generation doing as they moved into the workplace. What especially grabbed me was the fact that the young people outside the church were much more involved with this behavior than I was, or other people around my group of Christians. Let me explain. In Acts 4 we read this about the early experience of the church as it begins to grow together:
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
For so many years, I just assumed this was what happened back then, in an agrarian world, and quickly disappeared as economies grew in complexity and available resources were available. Then came the Internet, mobile phones, generations who grew up socially connected, and with a value to share. It is called the Sharing Economy, and it is one of the fastest areas of the economy.
Who would have thought that some of the largest companies in the world would spring up overnight where, without actually owning the product or service, but simply connect people who do? Airbnb, Uber, Amazon Prime, etc. You can rent, barter, swap, trade, gift, and lend just about any physical product and service. Some of my favorite unique offerings are 99dresses, which basically allows women to not wear the same outfit twice by swapping dresses online after they are slightly used by someone else or Airtasker, where you can help people make a little more cash by doing some of the errands you don’t want to do.
This trend is much more than it seems, however. In Beth Buczynski book “Sharing is Good” she says this about this global movement:
It’s based on the principle that the world already contains all of the supplies and resources we need to survive. It’s just that many of these resources are sitting idle, wasted, or hoarded by those who feel they’re entitled to more than their fair share.
Much more than a market trend, it is a new way of being in the world. I don’t think there’s anything else that can radically reduce poverty and resource consumption at the same time, something humans must do to stabilize our global climate and society.
Growing up socially connected as they were entering the workplace, the younger generations think in terms of the social network, i.e. the collective, or in our image, the body which balances the individual parts and the whole. Entering the workplace during the Great Recession caused this generation to rethink its relationship to “stuff” in their life. Put together, they realized that access to things is actually much cheaper for everyone than owning it all individually. Those that began doing this regularly experienced even greater. They became connected to people in a more collaborative way, and therefore they began to see we are better together, and it began to change their thinking about how much resource is around us every day. This thinking will become more and more critical as our global population becomes larger and larger, where sustainability is a must for all of us. Let me leave you with these questions:
- If you began to think in terms of only needing access to something at the right time, and not owning it, what areas of your life and budget might open up for you?
- When you think about stuff you have, or talents you have developed, what might you be able to contribute that will allow bartering or giving to others?
- How might it change your ideas and vision in organizations by thinking about products and services that you design or produce once, and then sell it over and over again?
Want to learn more about this topic? Check out our podcast on sharing.