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The Power of AD 2000 Mega-Images

AD 2000 has become the most powerful symbol of the future in our lifetimes. It is a mega-image pregnant with multiple meanings. This should come as no surprise to us. A.D. means Anno Domini, the year of our LORD. Every year is the year of the LORD’s favor. It takes an extraordinary year like 2000 to convince us that every year, every week, every day is the LORD s day and pregnant with meaning and possibilities.

What has happened in our era, however, is that anyone who is committed to a cause, whether secular or religious, has focused on that year. It is possible on one hand to make too much of the year 2000, on the other hand it is possible to make too little of it and miss the inherent momentum that is built into that year.

We can either sit back and say, Oh well, so what?  Or we can stick up our sails and capture that wind, that inherent energy that is focused toward the year 2000.

Before we jump on some AD 2000 bandwagon, however, we need to come to grips with the meaning of 2000 as a metaphor. The goal of this workshop is to throw light on the millennial metaphors that lie behind the AD 2000 movement.

Since its birth in prayer 14 years ago, my destiny has been defined by the watchword, “A Church for Every People by the Year 2000.” In early the ’80s, much of my life and service was fed by the power of unreached thinking inherent in the first part of this phrase. Since the late ’80s, my life and mission has been shaped by the dynamic nature of the year 2000 itself.

From 1986 to 1989 I served as a conference planner with the Lausanne movement, and had the unique privilege to design events for leaders that sought to give shape to the emerging AD 2000 movement. One lesson I learned was raising the flag for the year 2000 could divide as much as it could unite a group.

At that time many leaders failed to embrace AD 2000 because they saw it as a one-sided metaphor which spoke too confidently about the year 2000 being the end of God’s work. And that was a tragedy.

I believe the storehouse of metaphors behind the AD 2000 movement is filled with treasures we have yet to unpack. My hope is this message might give you a key to unlock this storeroom.

Our workshop will ask the question:

* In the midst of all the rush and buzz around the year 2000, is there any real prophetic word behind AD 2000?

Or to put it in another way:

* What is the essence of an AD 2000 vision?

* What is this spirit of 2000 which has given birth to so many year 2000 programs?

To answer this question, I will look at the great ideals, goals, and mega-events that have been associated with the advent of AD 2000, the 21st Century, and the Third Millennium. Much of what I share today is research from a forthcoming book.

In world history great endeavors have always started with great ideas. Every great movement in world civilization has always fired the imagination with a single great idea.

My search to uncover the great ideas behind the year 2000 took me to the Library of Congress two years ago. There I ransacked hundreds of books with the year 2000 in their title. That was no small task. Since 1950 more than 2,000 books and 15,000 journal articles have been published on the year 2000.

To make sense of this all, and compare what these books say about the Bimillennial, I came up with a five-fold classification. I call these “The Five AD 2000 Mega-Images.”

1. Threshold 2000
2. Trends 2000
3. Agenda 2000
4. Renewal 2000
5. Jubilee 2000

Under each of these year 2000 mega-images you could find major movements that might have very little in common on the surface. Yet beneath all their activity is a common constellation of concepts and perceptions that is shared by these communities, which forms their particular vision of reality. By reviewing books under each mega-image, I hope to reveal the ideals, goals, and mega-events which can be present in any movement that has focused on the year 2000.


This metaphor of the year 2000 sees it as the millennium. Whether literally or figuratively, it sees the year 2000 a cataclysmic shift, a turning point, a tidal wave of global transformation that will sweep away an old civilization and usher in a golden age.

This is not a new idea. For more than 500 years, psychics and seers, pundits and prophets, have been transfixed by the year 2000. Even in modern times, trend watchers, global planners, and futurists have hooked their sights to this guiding star. No other year in all of human history, before or beyond, has gathered about itself such incredible prophetic bets as AD 2000, given by luminaries from Newton to Nostradamus, from Ronald Reagan to Hal Lindsey.

Some swear it will bring doomsday, others claim it will usher in a utopian age. Either way, those who see 2000 as a threshold date, look toward 2000 through millennial lenses.

Like a huge magnet hung in time, the year 2000 attracts us for the same reason people have been attracted by millennialism, utopianism, or progressivism. We believe that paradise is not behind us, but just ahead, perhaps within our reach, or that of our children. Despite the mess the we find ourselves in, we believe in the possibility of global transformation.

But the millennial metaphor is full of tensions. It is a two-sided coin. Before you get to Paradise, you must pass through Armageddon. This THRESHOLD 2000 metaphor seems to fit the 20th Century. We have been gripped by the nightmare of Apocalypse. Nations, families, and ethnic groups are divided, and besieged by chaos and crisis.

Deep inside with us, however, we believe that out of this decadence, this turbulence, will come rebirth and renovation. If the unseemly caterpillar can become the magnificent butterfly, then we too can experience our own metamorphosis and take off heaven bound. This is the magic, the dream of the millennial date of AD 2000.

Good Morning, It’s AD 2000
The first book to really impact American culture on the idea of the year 2000 as a threshold was published in 1887. It was a fiction entitled Looking Backwards, 2000-1887. Before the turn of the century an incredible 10 million copies were sold, equalling the impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur in on American culture.

Edward Bellamy’s book described what life would be like in the year 2000. It s main character, aristocrat Julian West from Boston, falls asleep, only to wake up in September 2000 to discover a utopian wonder world which is free from unemployment, pollution, and crime.

It was easy to dream about how great the year 2000 could be when the world still had a century to put its house in order. Yet the terrors of the 20th century convinced humankind we were moving toward dystopia, a totalitarian world controlled by Big brother, or a world in which we were dehumanized and manipulated as in Aldous Huxley s Brave New World.

By the early ’70s, even our computers were cranking out dismal models of doom. The most famous study being The Limits to Growth by the Club of Rome, which offered a dim scenario by 2000 of all the world s resources being depleted, if consumption levels remained constant.

The Terminal Generation
Even Bible teachers bought into this THRESHOLD 2000 mega-images. They convinced millions we were a terminal generation, not due to an environmental apocalypse, but because of a coming nuclear armageddon. Hal Lindsey introduced The Late Great Planet Earth in the 70s which became the single best-selling book of that decade. More than 35 million copies were sold through more than 113 printings to date. Lindsey followed this with other prophecy books such asCountdown to Armageddon.

Lindsey’s charts of Christ Second Coming have clearly orbited around the period from 1988 to the year 2000. He is quoted as saying, “I don’t think there is anything magical about the year 2000. But I do believe, coincidentally, there has come together all the predicted signs, and in the exact scenario.”

While this dean of Bible Prophecy fuzzed on the year 2000, others have been more direct. Lester Sumrall, evangelist and Bible teacher, is typical of this approach in his book, I Predict 2000 A.D.

I feel sure the whole destiny of planet earth will we resolved before A.D. 2000….I am not telling you that Jesus will not return until 2000 A.D. He could return today. I am saying that we are nearing the end of the sixth day . We are in the Saturday night of time; morning will be the Sabbath, which speaks to us of the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus….I predict 2000 A.D. to be the ultimate day of destiny for planet Earth!  [pg. 106, 110]

Millennial Watchdog
End-of-an-age prophets may come under increasingly scrutiny in the 90s. Bible college graduate and doomsday buster, William Alnor, has written a compelling expose of doomsday-dating, pin-the-tail -on-the-Antichrist, and other non-biblical games that Christians play.

Alarmed by those who had set a date of 1988 for the Second Coming of Christ, Alnor wrote Soothsayers of the Second Advent to prevent a rerun of that embarrassment as we get closer to that ominous, millennial year 2000.

With skillful logic, Alnor explains why even conservative Bible scholars are now reluctant to accept the 6,000 Year Legend of human history, followed by a seventh day sabbath millennial age of peace. You can see how this theory, combined with Bishop Ussher’s 4004 B.C. creation date made the year 2000 a big hit on the prophecy charts since the mid-seventeen hundreds.

The Sense of an Ending
Why has the year 2000 cast such a spell on humanity, from dreams of a new world, to nightmares of a world s end? You’d hardly expect a book sub-titled “Studies in the Theory of Fiction” to offer insights into the age-old question of the millennium. But Frank Kermode, professor of humanities, and literary critic gives a series of brilliant addresses on how modern fiction has adopted the archetype of the Apocalypse.

In The Sense of an Ending, Kermode shares how ordinary people and great writers have imposed their fictions of the end onto their times in order to hold onto hope. He explains why we die unless they can join a beginning to an end. This is a fascinating study ranging from Plato to St. John, from Shakespeare to Jean Paul Sarte.

The Century End Effect
Over a hundred years ago the French gave a name to this end-of-an-age feeling, fin de siecle. We might say, “I’m O.K., Your O.K., we just got fin de siecle!” Hillel Schwartz traces the cultural history of this swing from the fear of decay to the fantasy of renewal.

In Century’s End: A Cultural History of the Fin de Siecle, he documents this century end effect from the 1290s through the 1990s and writes about the Legend of the Year 2000. There is no better psycho-history of the year 2000 than Schwartz. It’s documentation is incredible.

Although many are indifferent to the Great Calendar and its cultural meaning of Anno Domini 2000, Hillel Schwartz says, “We have the obligation, and perhaps the privilege, to take advantage of the cultural richness and historical weight of the Anno Domini 2000.”

What should we make of these THRESHOLD 2000 images of the future? Let me offer one comment, one complement, and one caution.

COMMENT:  As we approach the year 2000 a host of THRESHOLD 2000 authors & books might easily fill our bookstores, whether they be conspiracy or new age, utopian or doomsday. This alone could animate talk shows from Arsenio to Oprah.

COMPLEMENT: Throughout history these millennial images have given us a language to block history into various periods. We can not ignore the cultural weight of A.D. 2000 as we approach it. Like the men of Issachar, we should aim to understand the times and know what Israel should do  (1 Chronicles 12:32). At its best the THRESHOLD 2000 mega-image should help us look beyond the sunset of the house of Saul, to see and embrace the coming sunrise of the house of David.

CAUTION: The THRESHOLD 2000 image of the future can of course at its worse turn into a survivalist movement, a waiting game, a Great Escape  for the chosen. This can only disenfranchise us from the world we seek to reach.


The second mega-image shaping our future to the year 2000 and beyond is TRENDS 2000. As we approach the Bimillennium, there will be an irresistible need to look backward, and then look forward, retrospect and prospect. These actions express our human instinct for putting things in order. Lists will sum up the achievements of the Bimillennium  and chart  possibilities for the new epoch. Thousands of writers will wet their finger, raise it to the sky, to see which way the wind is blowing.

In Roman mythology, Janus was the wind god who brought new beginnings. It is no accident that the first month of our year is named January. Janus was always pictured with two faces, one old looking to the past with wisdom, and one young which looked to the future with idealism. No doubt the turn of the millennium will pass in review under the various aspects of Janus himself.

Since we live in an age which has extended both the past and future horizons, the efforts to sum up the past will be monumental, and the attempts to preview the future will be gigantic. In fact, they have already begun.

The best known TRENDS 2000 book is Megatrends 2000 by John Naisbitt. In it he predicts ten new directions of the 90s, including the rise of the Pacific Rim, a renaissance of the arts, more women leaders, and a religious revival. He includes two excellent sections on the year 2000 as the most compelling symbol of our times.

Since its January 1990 release, John Naisbitt’s Megatrends 2000 has enjoyed phenomenal success, cashing in on the magic of the millennium. According to Megatrends Limited, this book has been published in 35 countries, and enjoyed best seller status in U.S., Japan, and Germany. It has been released in more than 25 languages including Croatian, Chinese, Korean, and Russian.

The Key to Looking at History
Not content to just look forward a decade, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov has written The March of the Millennia. In his 413th book, and one of his last, he turned his gaze from the stars back to earth to survey the development of civilization millennium by millennium, beginning in the distant human past of 8,000 B.C. and moving forward to the year 2000. Asimov felt that we who are the people of the next millennium, [ought] to think expansively and offer their thoughts to others. Thus, creating a positive future begins with a belief that such a future is possible. It means having the perspective that humanity, for all the mistakes we have made, has come a long way since the dawn of civilization, and there is a long way yet to go.  [pg 183].

A New Story Needed
Another TRENDS 2000, long-look book is The Universe Story. For more than 1,500 years, Western Civilization lived with an agreed-upon functioning story of the world, from Genesis to Apocalypse as told in the Bible. This story helped them interpret the past, guide the present, and shape their approach to the future. It provided the context in which life could function in a meaningful way.

For three hundred years that story has eroded, and the purely historical or human stories which have tried to replace it have been too limited or one-sided. By a supreme irony, these utopian stories have ransacked the Earth s natural resources and begun to close down its basic life systems. We are in trouble now because we do not have a good story appropriate to the crisis in which we find ourselves.

Much in the tradition of St. Augustine who wrote The City of God in response to the burning of Rome by the Goths, cosmologist Brian Swimme and cultural historian Thomas Berry write The Universe Story in response to the plundering of our planet. Through it they hope to provide a new historical vision that can inspire a new creative period of human-earth relationships.

They recount the unfolding of the universe in a rich detailed narrative of epic sweep and vision. From the primordial flaring forth of power 15 billion years ago and the formation of galaxies to the human emergence, classical civilizations, and the coming Ecozoic era.

As members of the redemptive community, most of us have a profound aversion, a fear, a distrust of the natural world and all its processes. We may have a dynamic theology of redemption, but our theology of creation is static. I found The Universe Story to be stretching, even challenging at points. But we cannot run from the Great Reappraisal the year 2000 will bring. We must rediscover Christ as LORD of the whole Universe, not just the Church.

A New Vision, for a New Millennium
“The New Age is Dead, long live the New Age” could have easily been the title of David Spangler’s and William Irvin Thompson’s new book, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture.

The authors are concerned the mainstream press and culture knows the New Age movement according to its radical, paranormal experiences such as astrology, crystals, psychics and such foolishness. The new age they describe here is less a mystical experience and more a metaphor for personal and social transformation, particularly in light of the new millennium. Spangler considers the idea of a new age as rooted in one of the oldest human images, that of a holy (or holistic) human civilization. This is a vision of a world still to be born  in terms of human culture, in full harmony with itself, with nature, and with God.

Contrast this call for a new vision in light of Pat Robertson’s book The New Millennium. After describing 10 trends that will affect this decade, he had nothing to say about the next millennium, except to warn readers against “the most hellish nightmare this world has known.” He was referring to “the new world order, the counterfeit to the millennial government of Christ.”

Unless the Church can develop an approach to the next millennium that goes beyond mere warnings, the New Age will continue to occupy a prophetic void in popular culture, particularly if it continues to reinvent itself, as we see here, in the Reimagination of the World. We need a vision of the Third Millennium that is filled with hope, rather than fraught with fear.

A History of the Future
What Megatrends 2000 does for the decade leading up to 2000, The Third Millennium does for the 10 centuries following the Bimillennium. In essence this is a history of times to come! Cast in the form of a narrative written in the year 3000 A.D., the authors look back on the Third Millennium through topics such as:

-the Period of Crisis, 2000 to 2180,
-the Period of Recovery, 2180 to 2400
-the Period of Transformation, 2400 to 2650
-the Creation of the New World, 2650 to 3000

And what epochs they were! Here you find event such as:

-the last nuclear war in 2079 between Argentina and Brazil, resulting in a worldwide permanent ban on nuclear weapons…
-the global warming crisis in 2015, in which seas rose and floods hit coastal cites.
-the greening of the moon and other hitherto barren outer space places in the 25th century.
-the genetic engineering of human merpeople and underwater colonies.
-the encounter with an alien star ship a mere 30 light-years away in 2981.

“In the year 3000, the quest for the unknown is still alive” as the authors write, “The horizons of the human enterprise now stretch to infinity, but that does not mean we can see all that lies within

On the eve of the year 2000, may we renew our common quest for the greater truth, for the mystery of the one and true God, whose power, majesty, and glory will be fully unveiled.

What should be our response to TRENDS 2000 approaches, which are in themselves nothing more than expansive AD 2000 mega–images? Let me mention two futurist who use this mega-image.

Let Hope Abound
One TREND 2000 book from the Christian community which shines like a beacon is Wild Hope by Tom Sine. It is being read by people of all walks of faith, and has been endorsed by Jimmy Carter and carried by the World Future Society. In it Sine offers biblical hope, global analysis, and personal strategy to release believers to meet the needs of the 21st Century. His vision of the 21st century is clear, and he gives real handles on how to understand and work out a world view that is Christian.

Welcome the Lord of the Cosmos
In the AD 2000 series from New Hope, David Barrett has produced a mind-stretcher for Christians on the eve of the 21st Century. Cosmos, Chaos, and Gospellets us ponder past events and track future projections through 5,000 entries from creation to new creation.

He gives particular attention to the impact of world evangelization in world history, and galactic civilization as he ranges from 13 million BC to 4 billion AD. Reading Cosmos, Chaos, and Gospel gives new meaning to Jesus  words, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13).


The third mega-image which is shaping our approach to the year 2000 and beyond is AGENDA 2000. It sees AD 2000 as a milestone date to tackle unfinished agendas through setting national or global goals.

As far back as 1965, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences commissioned sociologist Daniel Bell to organize “The Commission on the Year 2000.” Packed with distinguished educators, government officials, and researchers, the Commission saw its role not so much in making predictions, but in “defining alternatives for U.S. society as it moved toward the turn of the century.”

By the mid-’70s, year 2000 projections and goal setting had spread throughout the entire United Nation system. Many of its specialized agencies set year 2000 goals, such as the World Health Organization’s goal of health for all by the year 2000 or the International Telephone Union s goal of universal telephone access for all by 2000. Awakened to this possibility of future planning and armed with forecasting techniques, a host of countries launched National 21st Century Studies to identify national objectives and policies for long-range development.

One of the most ambitious year 2000 national programs enacted was the Chinese government s 1979 one child per couple program. In an effort to limit their population to 1.2 billion by the year 2000, rigorous birth control measures were enforced. By 1988, however, the Chinese government announced its plan had been defeated by rising fertility rates. Viva el amor!

Nevertheless the year 2000 has continued to be the most popular bench mark for goal setting in our time. Our country has an AGENDA 2000 program for education. As Naisbitt puts it: The year 2000 compels us to examine ourselves and resolve our problems so we can meet the Third Millennium with a clean slate.

Global Goals for the 21st Century
In the fall of 1986, the Christian Science Monitor began to publish 22 interviews of leading thinkers. Each was asked a single question: What are the major issues mankind will face in the 21st Century?  In April of 1987, to build on this work, they convened a consultation entitled Agenda 2000: Reasonable Goals. Reinventing the Future is the running record of their conversation. The final day of their meeting they worked on a list of 95 global goals for the next century. You might think of these as New Century  resolutions for humanity as we enter the 21st Century, each of which demands solutions as we approach the year 2000. Their Agenda 2000 contained global goals in four areas: Development, Peace, Environment, and Ethics.

A Strategy to Save Our Planet
On June 13th, 1992, nearly 100 world leaders met around a single table in Rio de Janeiro in the largest face-to-face meeting of national leaders in the history of the world. Americans largely saw the Earth Summit through the actions of President Bush, who refused to sign the biodiversity and greenhouse treaties. But this U.S. reluctance was only a footnote to the whole story.

The main binding agreement, signed by all 172 participating nations, including the United States, was called AGENDA 21, a comprehensive global action plan to confront and overcome the most pressing environmental, health, and social problems facing our planet. This book by the same title is the edited and clarified abridgment for popular audiences of the very lengthy and complex U.N. document.

Virtually every aspect of human civilization is addressed by some portion of this blueprint for action leading up to the next century. AGENDA 21 is organized around seven themes, 40 separate sub-topics of concern are addressed, with 120 separate action plans outlined.

The seven central themes are:
* The Quality of Life on Earth
* Efficient Use of the Earth s Natural Resources
* The Protection of our Global Commons
* The Management of Human Settlements
* Chemicals and the Management of Waste
* Sustainable Economic Growth
* Implementing Agenda 21

The final theme covers the means and methods to implement and monitor the action steps which are relevant to the above six themes. In the follow-up to AGENDA 21, a great effort is being undertaken to integrate economic & environment issues to achieve sustainable growth. National governments, UN agencies, and private organizations are forming concrete action plans to insure that AGENDA 21 is carried out.

The Birth of the AD 2000 Movement
Not just world environment, but world evangelism groups are targeting the year 2000. This was especially evident in the late ’80s, when one new global evangelism plan appeared each week, with a fair amount originating in the Third World. David Barrett and some of his associates set about to publish a series of books to provide direction to this century-end movement.

The first book to uncover the emerging AD 2000 movement within the Christian world and identify what people later called the 10/40 window  was 700 Plans to Evangelize the World. It noted that of the 788 evangelism plans launched since Christ’s day, 1/2 had appeared since 1948. Many were short lived, such that only 230 were now viable. Barrett attributes a great deal of these failures to a stand-alone  mentality and an aversion to networking. 700 Plans concluded with a call to the Great Commission leaders of the world to develop a single coordinated global strategy for AD 2000 and Beyond.

Will History Repeat Itself?
Countdown to 1900 takes you back 100 years to discover that planning to reach the world for Christ by the end of a century can be risky business. Not since the failure of nerve at Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 13-14), has a generations story in world evangelization been so well documented. Drawing from correspondence, periodicals, and conferences of the day, Todd Johnson documents the rise, peak, decline, and failure of a generation evangelize the world by the turn of the century. Will history repeat itself? Understanding their story might be the key to unlocking ours.

The Meeting of the Century
Many feel we have entered a Decade of Destiny unlike any other in the history of the world. But before the Berlin Wall came down, God was preparing the Church for an unprecedented Decade of Harvest. Little known to the world, back in 1989 three hundred Great Commission leaders gathered in Singapore to set goals to reach the world for Christ by the turn of the Century at the historic Global Consultation on AD 2000.

The Countdown Has Begun is the story of the people, and events which gave birth to this meeting of the century  and the messages and documents which emerged from Singapore. To date, it is the only history of the AD 2000 movement. Written in a snappy journalist style, it deserves to be read.

Prepare for Harvest
Convinced that major movements were moving their columbines to the edge of the harvest field in an uncoordinated fashion, in 1990 David Barrett wrote Our Globe and How to Reach It. It contained much of the research presented a year earlier at the Global Consultation in Singapore. This book is a virtual manual for the Decade of Harvest, with statistics, projections, and proposals for AD 2000 evangelization.

For most it contained surprising and contrasting figures. For example the good news was the number of unevangelized persons in the world was so low–only 24% of the world s population or 1.3 billion. The bad news was that the world was not being rapidly evangelized, as popularly thought, despite the massive political upheavals. If we are to address the challenges of the year 2000, major changes are necessary in how we think and carry out world evangelization.

Our Globe provides a beginning framework. You might compare reaching the world by 2000 to a track race. To aide those running, Our Globe offers starting line statistics, finish line goals, and a 100 point action plan to improve our stride.

Starting Line at 1990: 33 one-page global diagrams reveal difference facets of world missions, along with a quick reference Statistics Index of more 2,500 global facts.

Finish Line: A list of near-to 200 global goals which describe how major denominations plan to reach the world for Christ by the year 2000. No better description of what an evangelized world would look like exists anywhere.

Hurdles: A 100-point action plan to remove obstacles that have tripped up global plans in the past. It focuses groups over hurdles necessary to reach the AD 2000 goal.

Quite comprehensive, isn’t it? Our Globe contains the vision, data, and resources that could set the agenda of the Church as we enter the 21st Century. Up until now, however, this Global Action Plan has been virtually ignored, even by those most keen on targeting 2000.

The World by 2000
Combining a good mix of global and personal stories, writers Bill & Amy Stearns have written Catch the Vision 2000 for church audiences. They ask, Is there sufficient reason to believe that the task of world evangelization can be completed by the year 2000? They answer a resounding YES.

They share this optimism through present day stories and statistics of people groups coming to Christ, and the biblical story of God s unchanging global purpose. The last chapter contains 59 action steps you or your church can take to adopt-an-unreached people.

What can these AGENDA 2000 programs teach us? Let me summarize this section:

1. AFFIRMATION: A Global Action Plan for world evangelization is as necessary as an Agenda 21 world plan for environmental care, literacy, health care, control of epidemics, control of terrorism, and the like. Right now, there are several AD 2000 mission networks among leaders whether Charismatic, Catholic, Mainline, or Evangelical, but they have yet to coordinate their efforts globally in light of AD 2000 and beyond. Until they do, they might as well be operating on different planets.

2. ADJUSTMENT: Even if we have a global image of the future, it might not empower people for action on the local level. For a long time I have felt this way about frontier missions. Seeing the world in terms of unfinished tasks, targets, or 10/40 windows may be helpful shorthand for global accounting, but it means very little to the average person. Most of us already have our plate full of tasks to do.

I welcome the day when Christian missions will not just talk about the Unfinished Task in terms of a finish line, where we rally the troops to go out one more time to fight the mother of all missionary battles. Instead, people are yearning to be invited to the banquet of life, and then being refreshed by the Living God, be sent out to invite others to come to Christ’s Celebration 2000.

Our AGENDA 2000s need to be grace-directed rather than merely strategy need-driven. I talk very rarely now about completing the task. I may share the same challenge, but in terms of opening one’s heart and life to enter into the many Unbegun Relationships.

Another weakness of AGENDA 2000 programs is that they can be developed just as programs of action, with only shallow mega-images of the future. We let our missiology triumph over our theology.

Fred Polak, a Dutch futurist unpacks this in his book, The Image of the Future. When he wrote this almost 40 years ago, he noticed that western civilization had lost its image of the future and was therefore in the beginning stages of stagnation and decay. He goes on to explain that our society may have a linear view of progress, but not an image of the future. The later has a transformational component, the former doesn’t. Progress is only the image of the present projected into the future. While progress anticipates changes, they are more surface changes than real transformations.

Most of the “reach the world by 2000” groups have no mega-image of the future, only images of the present. Their vision is one of progress,  a bigger, better, more extensive evangelism. That is the comfortable way out, you can control that, mobilize that, or predict that. On the other hand, what many of  a new  generation are longing for is a movement of God that takes us all to a place we have never been before.

This is why I appreciate the work of David Bryant, leader of Concerts of Prayer. He is not satisfied with the status quo, and yearns for more of Christ. In direct response to this need to call forth a greater anointing on our lives as we approach the year 2000, he has written “Ten Words for the Next Ten Years.” This little booklet will set you free to join the growing movement of seekers  who are spoiled for anything less than the greater glory of God in Christ among the nations.


Rather than a flat view of AD 2000 as a milestone, many today hold the year 2000 up as a mirror, so we might see ourselves better. Convinced we have not arrived, this image of the future calls for renewal, renovation, restoration, and renaissance in light of the year 2000. This has especially been true of the Church in terms of its spirituality, and world view.

Third Millennium Theology
In light of AD 2000, how would you like to settle all the quarrels theologians have had among themselves over the past millennia? In essence, that is what Catholic theologian Hans Kung aspires to do in his book, A Theology for the Third Millennium.

This book is divided into three parts: classical conflicts, future perspectives, new departures. In the introduction, Kung states: I am convinced that only when theology has resolved the classical conflicts  (Part A) that have been backed up since the Reformation, will it be theoretically and practically capable of working out Future Perspectives (Part B), and to dare to make a new departure toward a theology of world religions (Part C)….Only in such a way will theology be prepared for the coming of the third millennium.  [pg. 11]

One useful tool Kung introduces to analyze where theology is going is to look at where theology has been through the concept of paradigm  changes. Originally used as a concept in the field of science, paradigm change refers to how new hypotheses replace previously accepted theories. Just as the stars and planets don’t change, but our views of the constellations and the universe come into sharper focus, Kung shows how paradigm changes have taken place from a Hellenistic to Medieval theological paradigm, or from a 17th century Modern Enlightenment paradigm to 20th century Postmodern paradigm.

Theology for the Third Millennium helps people do what the year 2000 will require, namely, to think in over-arching terms across great spans of time. You may not agree with all it’s conclusions, but none can better frame the questions theology will grapple with at the dawn of the Third Millennium than Hans Kung. Kung’s paradigm framework was recently applied by David Bosch in his breakthrough book on missiology, Transforming Mission.

Global Responsibility
This book’s subtitle describes its contents, “In Search of a New World Ethic.” In it, Hans Kung picks up where he left off in Theology for a Third Millennium. His message is basically this: the world has come to the end of an epoch in which the social powers of science, technology, industry, and democracy were absolutized. Rather than a destruction, it is looking for a fundamental shift in its values. While keeping the old values of diligence, rationality, order, achievement, or efficiency, it aims to add new values to its constellation of imagination, sensitivity, warmth, humanity.

It is Kung’s conviction that the world s religions can best define what these aesthetic, ethical, and religious dimensions of our global civilization ought to be. He lays out principles for inter-religious dialogue useful for self-criticism and transformation that could ease regional conflicts in which the religions themselves are the cause. If Christians & Muslims would have embarked on this kind of dialogue in the Middle East in the 60s, we might still have a Lebanon… or a Yugoslavia for that matter.

The Jesus Legacy
After 2,000 years, what does the movement which Jesus began really look like across the world. How are his followers working out his message in a new world. What does the world Christian movement look likeat the dawn of the Third Millennium? In The Quiet Revolution, British editor Robin Keeley pulls together 63 contributors to answer these questions. This is a welcome portrait of a living faith, which pleasantly concentrates on ideas, trends, and movements rather than statistics.

You Could be in Hot Water
Market research specialist, George Barna believes your church could be in hot water, unless it anticipates what your community will be like in the year 2000 and changes its approach to ministry. In The Frog in the Kettle, Barna describes these likely changes in technology, behavior, and lifestyle among Americans and the opportunities this will create for the Church.

For example, cheaper, new technology will enable more people to work from home, whether as an electronic commuter with their corporation, or starting a new business from home. The implication? Members may have less time for the church, but new methods of communication such as electronic mail and FAX might maximize prayer and care networks. Good book. Well deserving of the sub-title: What Christians need to know about life in the year 2000.

From Mega to Meta-Churches
In the ’80s we heard a lot about mega-churches. But as we face the 21st Century, church growth consultant Carl George believes the mega-church has reached its limits of size at 6,000 members. He believes a new model of church is emerging he labels Meta-church. Meta- signifying a change of mind that produces a change of form. A church that s large enough to celebrate, but small enough to care. Based on actual church experiences, Prepare Your Church for the Futureprovides pastors and lay leaders with new maps that can keep ministry personal and effective.


The fifth and final AD 2000 mega-image might well be the most important because of its ability to integrate the previous four approaches. This ideal sees the year 2000 as a global jubilee. Ancient Jewish society used to start all over again every 50 years through its Jubilee Year. Land was returned, debts were forgiven, prisoners were set free. Everyone got a fresh start, a new lease on life. A whole year like that was cause for celebration. Within a short period of time, we will begin to see the year 2000 as a holy year of Jubilee, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The year 2000 will likely be the greatest celebration in the history of civilization. Not only will the world celebrate the arrival of a new millennium due to the Great Calendar, it will also commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.

With the Quincentennial, we didn’t know whether to protest or parade for Columbus. But not so with Jesus. His Bimillennial birthday celebrations will overshadow all previous celebrations in modern times, including the Bicentennial of United States or France. And since Jesus was most likely born before 1 AD, the celebrations will start as early as 1996, in commemoration of the Journey of the Magi,  continue through Christmas 2000, and into the new millennium.

The Biggest New Year’s Ever
Up until now, the mainstream press has been unaware that AD 2000 will be the most meaningful Christmas in 2,000 years. They see the year 2000 only as the biggest New Year s in a 1000 years. Typical of this approach is The Millennium Book by two New York journalists. This is actually a trivia book on the year 2000, perfect for any Millennial Party animal. Through humorous Top Ten Lists, critics share the best or worse of the last millennium, including the Top Ten Tunes, the Ten Best Parties, the Ten Worst Natural Disasters, and the Ten Worst Meals (including Spam) and other milestones of the last 1000 years. Also reviewed are the prophets whose forecasts for the year 2000 will launch a thousand talk show discussions, including Nostradamus, Jean Dixon, and St. Malachy.

A World Thanksgiving Year
Not everyone in New York is looking for the celebrations of the year 2000 to center around Times Square. Leaders at the United Nations have been talking about celebrating the year 2000 as a World Thanksgiving Year since the late 70s.

The most complete summary of what this International Year would mean is put forth in a JUBILEE novel called: First Lady of the World. Written by the former assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, this novel begins in 1992 with the hypothetical inauguration of the first woman Secretary-General.

She is an Indian diplomat named Lakshmi Narayan. Inspired by a wise Frenchman, she becomes an advocate for world-wide celebrations of the year 2000 preceded by unparalleled thinking, inspiration, and planning for the achievement of a peaceful and happy human society on Earth.

In 1994, the Pope visits the UN to share his vision of a more spiritual and peaceful third millennium. By 1996, the arms race ends, and a World Peace Service is created to allow young people to do world service in poor countries, in lieu of abolished military service.

In 1998, a World Constitutional Assembly is convened in Philadelphia and given till 1999 to come up with a World Constitution to fulfill Simon Bolivar s and George Washington’s dreams.

A Bimillennial Scenario
The novel, The First Lady of the World reaches a crescendo in the year 2000. Here is how Robert Muller describes the Bimillennial:

The year 2000 was an incredible event. Ever since the UN General Assembly recommended to hold this world-wide celebration, ideas, visions, programs, projects, movements, institutions, awards and publicity campaigns for the year 2000 and the advent of the third millennium sprang up all over the world. It was a universal outbidding of enthusiasm, inspiration, imagination, discussions, and conferences on the expected new age. The UN received news of dozens of conferences being held to contribute to the year. Every nation established a national committee for the preparation and celebration of
the Bimillennium.

Every TV network on Earth commissioned programs reviewing how the world had changed since the year 1000 or the beginning of the century and what humanity could dream for the next millennium. Books were published showing the state of the world and of humanity 3000, 2000, 1000 years before Christ, in the years 1, 1000 and 2000.

Each Earth Day was bigger than the preceding. Ecologists and the youth of the sixties saw the triumph of many of their ideas. The Catholics started an Evangelic movement 2000. All religions cooperated in an ecumenic Council for the year 2000. The Pope presented his views on a third, spiritual millennium to the 1994 UN General Assembly, during the International Year of the Family. The whole UN and its agencies were busy updating and putting together their plans 2000 and beyond.

School children had contests on their views of the year 2000 and the next millennium. Universities and research institutes were overflowing with theses and books on the third millennium in all realms of science, technology, social, political, ethical, moral, philosophical and spiritual concerns. It was simply unbelievable. The sports joined in and organized special events and competitions in 2000. The arts flourished with innumerable year 2000 productions, rediscovering the beauty and harmony all around us, repeating the miracle of the Italian Renaissance after the bewildered, chaotic, scared Middle Ages.

Every conceivable celebration took place in the world, in capitals, in cities, in villages, in churches, in hamlets, in families. The grand opening of the world celebration took place on New Years  eve, 31 December 1999. Festivities and world prayers were held all over the planet, re-transmitted by all major television networks. Never had such a thing happened in the entire human history. It was really the birth of the human family [pg 196-197].

The Anniversary Compulsion
From the halls of academia, William Johnston has written a remarkable book called Celebrations: The Cult of Anniversaries in Europe and America. His major premise is that in the ’70s & ’80s society has developed a veritable cult of anniversaries, which now gives a postmodern  society a way to celebrate every nuance of opinion. He sees this burgeoning modern Age of Anniversaries, this commemoration industry climaxing in the Bimillennial year 2000. He shares a great deal how cultural managers should use anniversaries more creatively.

The last third of this book anticipates the Bimillennial celebrations leading up to the year 2000. By then Johnston feels, Everyone and everything will come up for appraisal in that year….The bimillennium will weave together into one grand synthesis the threads of all previous Western and non-Western cultures.

One strength of Celebrations is its insight into the role that counter-commemorations play in championing eccentric and minority viewpoints of history. Unless we learn our lessons now about the cult of anniversaries, the Bimillennial Era could easily loose shape as we saw in the Quincentennial anniversary. Recently I saw a bumper sticker which read, “Discover Columbus Legacy: 500 years of racism, oppression, & stolen land.” Whatever our perspective on 1492, mega-anniversaries should not give way to cultural war.

The Heart of the Bimillennial
Undoubtedly, the arrival of the year 2000 will be marked by extensive secular celebrations. The question is, At the heart of the Bimillennial celebrations, will we find an observance worthy of Jesus’ 2000th birthday? A celebration that brings us together, rather than dividing us further?

We ought to make AD 2000 what it was truly meant to be the world s biggest birthday party in honor of the world s greatest leader  Jesus Christ. It’s time the world knew the Reason for the Season.

If our grandmother were having her 100th birthday, we would never dream of letting it pass without a marvelous banquet. As a family we would stop fighting long enough to come together for grandma  sake. How much more is Jesus worthy of a 2000th birthday anniversary tribute?

Here’s what Christianity Today wrote: “There’s really not a lot of time. We re now at the fourth quarter of this century….We should not allow the Bimillennial to go the way of our Christmas celebrations, with its materialistic and pagan accretions. We need to determine how 2000 can be celebrated in a truly biblical way…”

This was the lead-in to Christianity Today’s cover story, “The Bimillennial–A Great Year Coming,” in 1976. In the years that followed, this clarion call went unanswered.

What should we make of this? The world is fast developing a way to celebrate the year 2000 that might totally overlook the role of history s most influential person Jesus Christ. If that were not bad enough, the real tragedy is the Christian world, the very constituency that would be inclined to make the Bimillennial a Christ-centered occasion, has hardly begun to lay the groundwork to celebrate AD 2000 as Jesus’ 2000th birthday.

We have been so concerned about what we might do by 2000, that we have forgotten the who. By now the LORD must be saying, Don’t forget to invite my son to his birthday party!

Look for Jesus 2000 Memorabilia
Bimillennial books on Jesus are already being released by publishers. From Lion Publishing in Oxford, England you can purchase a Jesus 2000 book for your coffee table, which celebrates history s most intriguing figure. Look for other publishers like Harper Row to reissue classics like Jaroslav Pelikan’s Jesus Through the Centuries in special Bimillennial editions.

As early as 1986, Candlewax, a Christian group in San Francisco, released a Celebration 2000 logo. Consisting of an artistic rendition of the portrait of Christ on a coin, the logo points to celebrations of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus. It is the most widely used trademark among those preparing for Jesus’ Bimillennial. Within the first year of operation, Candlewax licensed more than 200 groups to use this logo as part of a national communication strategy. By the mid-’90s, look for whole industries to start using common Bimillennial logos.

Celebrate the Vision
Perhaps the best book yet to help churches prepare to celebrate the year 2000 is Vision 2000: Planning for Ministry into Next Century. Written as a manual for a pastoral team, or task group within a church, Vision 2000 shares how a congregation can identify its calling, and develop a plan for ministry which can be celebrated each year leading up to the year 2000. Also included are suggestions for how a congregation might celebrate the key liturgical events of the year 2000 and celebrate life within its community. Hundreds of United Methodist churches and several whole annual conferences have developed Vision 2000 goals.

Let s Party for Jesus
Another JUBILEE 2000 movement among Christians, which is really expressing the vision of a church without walls is “March for Jesus.” Spontaneously begun in the Soho district of London in 1985, March for Jesus is becoming the world s biggest street party in honor of the world s greatest leader. The concept is a simple one, on one day of the year, in cities across the world, believers of all ages, races, and traditions fill the streets to joyfully proclaim their faith, sing praise songs, and pray for their cities. There is no other agenda. It is simply a gift of praise to Jesus.

On June 12, 1993, more than 600 cities worldwide are planning to MARCH FOR JESUS, sweeping more than a million people into praise marches. Organizers see these praise marches as opening events of the Bimillennial Era–leading up to AD 2000 to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. This century has seen
some great marches, led by Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, but I consider the March for Jesus movement to be the March of the Millennium. It is nothing less than an epoch making march in response to the call of the Spirit of God.

Already in preparation toward the year 2000 is a global march on June 25, 1994 to include five million people. It will start in Seoul, Korea with one million believers, and circle the globe, sweeping from time zone to time zone, in one city after another worldwide.

Graham Kendrick, one of Englands  most popular worship leaders and songwriter of “Shine, Jesus, Shine” has written the story of the MARCH FOR JESUS movement in the book Public Praise: Celebrating Jesus on the Streets of the World.

I have a hunch that our heavenly Father is so eager to honor Jesus in the Bimillennial that He has allowed the March for Jesus movement to be prematurely born in cities around the world to insure that one great offering of praise is gathered from the East to the West to present to our LORD on His 2000th birthday. Those of you who March for Jesus now may well find yourselves in 30 years telling your grandchildren, “Yes, I was there when the Bimillennial Era really began. We marched for Jesus all the way up Congress Avenue.”

Before the year 2000 is all over, I believe tributes to Jesus will fill our city s theaters, libraries, schools and stadiums. The Scriptures say we have been chosen for this very purpose, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

A Holy Year of Jubilee
When you stack up all these images of AD 2000, whether in terms of THRESHOLD, TRENDS, AGENDA, or RENEWAL, JUBILEE 2000 may be the richest of them all. Everyone wants a second chance, a new lease on life, and longs for the Kingdom of God to truly be a party. It is no accident that Jesus asked his followers to remember his death until he came again  through the act of a shared experience–a communal meal during festival season. Celebration is evangelization if it is done among those who truly need hope.

We should probably tip our hat to Pope John Paul II. On October 16, 1978, in the first 100 words of his inaugural address, he recognized his sovereign placement and declared the year 2000 will be the year of a great Jubilee.

What’s in Your Alabaster Box?
So what does all this mean? We would do well to apply Jesus’ words, “The experts in my Kingdom are like home owners, who can bring forth new and old treasures from their store rooms.” When it comes to the year 2000, we should be like Jesus, share more in parables, less in projections. People should experience jubilee everywhere they go.

Let’s work together to insure that we have a full, and holistic (& holy) AD 2000 mega-image behind all of our AD 2000 efforts.

I love the story in Mark 14 where Simon the Leper threw a party for Jesus, and Mary anointed his feet from the spikenard she had kept in her alabaster  box. When some objected, Jesus said, “Leave her alone! She had done a good thing for me.” Jesus was touched by this love, and said that just as this fragrance had filled the room, so this story would fill the earth. Its time to do something beautiful for God!

“A Church for Every People by the Year 2000” is a good program statement, but I long to see the day when missions embraces more theocentric and relational watchwords such as “That My House May Be Full.”

When this begins to happen, Mission 2000 will be seen as Meal 2000. Countdown 2000 will be full of Celebration 2000. Once and for all, let’s say good bye to last-chance evangelism, and embrace the wonder, awe, miracle of people and cultures encountering one another and discovering God in their midst. To me that is the essence of AD 2000 for Adopt-A-People.


1. In your own words, explain the five mega-images that lie behind the AD 2000 ideal.

2. What images are we using to share our vision of: the year 2000? the 21st Century? the Third Millennium?

3. In what ways are these images adequate, or inadequate, to express the fullness of our mission?

4. What meaning should the Bimillennial have for the Christian family worldwide? How could the celebrations surrounding AD 2000 help heal the current culture war in America?

5. How can we develop inspiring visions for the future which the whole human family can embrace?

JAY GARY, speaker, writer, and missions leader is a leading voice for a new generation of Christians as we move toward the 21st Century. He is the author of the book The Countdown Has Begun which shares how Christian leaders have joined hands to reach the world by the year 2000. In 1992 he launched CELEBRATION 2000, a unique project whose goal is to help the church celebrate Jesus’ 2000th birthday.

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