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23 September 2014

Risking failure, shifting culture

Risking failure, shifting culture

Caleb Meakins made his way onto the red carpet and chatted to Hollywood stars Sarah-Jessica Partker and her husband Matthew Broderick as part of his 40 Days of Rejection challenges

The face of 25-year-old entrepreneur Caleb Meakins became familiar on social media for his 40 Days of Rejection project last year. The challenges pushed him out of his comfort zone and left him open to failure. We find out how he believes that creative young adults stepping out and taking risks can bring about a true culture shift.

idea: So you asked for £100 on the street, tried to get on the red carpet and attempted to give a university lecture. Why did you put yourself through it? 

It was tough and didn't come naturally to me at all. That's why I felt the need to take it on. I had told people of my plans, during university, to focus on bringing new ideas to life. But they couldn't understand why I would risk failure. I think this fear is why many of my fellow bright students suddenly focussed on securing jobs in city banks, less risk and more money. I needed to push myself to take risks, be passionate and creative, but also inspire others to face the fear of failure head-on.  

What's holding back innovation then?  

All too often if we fall down we are told 'you must not to do it again' rather than 'get back up and try again'. Trial and error isn't encouraged enough. There is a culture of fear of getting it wrong, rather than learning valuable life lessons. We're seeing inspiring and powerful stories burst out on digital platforms from teenagers working in their garages or bedrooms. There is a rising optimism for innovation, but on the whole we're not quite there. I noticed that bureaucracy and doing things by the book really suffocated me. I don't think I'm the only one.  

Tell us about Shift …  

Shift began at new year, 2012. Myself and a few friends decided that because new year is often an anti-climax, we would gather to start the year excited for God and the year ahead. As we prepared, we felt God call us to rally others of our own age to understand our role as Christians in society and in the Church. The vision of Shift is to see our generation captured by God and impacting culture. We set up two purity networks called Last Man Standing and Pure Gold which openly and honestly tackle the issues of sexual purity in our culture. We aim to inspire people and challenge perceptions, from a place of security in our identity in Christ. 

So what's the big opportunity?

In London, there are around 25,000 Christians in their 20s and 30s, compared to 1.2 million who are not Christians. So by that calculation, each of us is responsible for reaching 48 non-Christians. I don't think many of us are intentional with five, let alone 48 colleagues, friends or neighbours. Instead of feeling condemned, we have an opportunity to become more intentional. My heart is to see us wake up to this, to reach our generation and see change. 'Culture', for me means both people, the things they are interested in, and the way they outwork their personality e.g. through music, art, film or fashion. Often we detach those things from our faith but I would love for Christians to be speaking into this space. When the people representing the Church are adding value to society, we become credible and people say 'yeah, you are here and you are among us.' It doesn't have to be a four-point gospel presentation. It's not about us but about what God is doing.  

So how can we adopt a new positive mindset as Church? 

Life with Jesus is adventure, exciting, risk and purpose….everything my peers are looking for. They need to encounter a true representation of Jesus which is why creatives, entrepreneurs and young people should be leading in the Church. Creatives capture and present something in its true essence, entrepreneurs push things not done before and youth are the future. At 17, my vicar took a gamble when he allowed me to organise an event for people to invite their mates to. It happened to go well. Three hundred people turned up, some came to know Jesus and the event continued for three years. Then later, at Open Heaven Church, the leaders gave anyone permission to run with their ideas with church backing. Instead of being limited by leader capacity, this was incredibly releasing. I believe we could see churches alive, relevant, thriving and serving. Jesus transforms our lives, our churches change and a culture shift begins. 

Caleb is developing Shift while also growing a media consultancy.  www.shift-uk.com

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