Does the Burning Man festival tell us something about the future of the church? It’s an interesting question. But first if you don’t know what Burning Man is here’s a quick overview:
Burning Man is an eight-day-long festival held annually, beginning on the last Monday of August and ending on the United States Labor Day holiday in early September. The festival takes place on the playa of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, 90 miles (150 km) north-northeast of Reno, though the specific location on the playa changes from year to year. The temporary city is put forth as an experiment in community, radical self expression, and radical self reliance. The culmination of the event occurs on the sixth day of the event, Saturday, when a large wooden sculpture of a man is burned.
This year just last week 40,000+ people descended onto the dessert for Burning Man. Most Christians would look at the event and proclaim it to be devoid of anything of value to the church, but I beg to differ. I think there is a few things the church could learn from Burning Man.
1. Burning Man’s main attraction is the sense of community. Everyone belongs and for 8 days everyone is family.
2. People like a challenge! Burn Man is harsh conditions – but people will do what it takes to have their need for community filled.
3. There are endless forms of expression! I don’t agree with them all – but Burning Man shows how diverse expression can be. The church could learn to be more tolerant of expression.
4. There’s a spiritual hunger that people will go to extremes to satisfy. One goer said on his website “Burning Man is my church. Except, instead of going every Sunday, I go for one INTENSE week that gets me through the rest of the year.”
The missional church has a chance to meet all these felt needs. Community, challenge, expression and spiritual thirst. The question becomes will it?
This was originally posted a couple days ago on my blog. I'm interested in your reaction!