The power of networks is the power of affiliation, relationship, community. It's hiding everywhere in plain sight.
For a moment I saw it all so clearly – community as a web of relationships, a network of connections. THAT’S community, I said to myself. With an exclamation mark! What do people crave? They want a sense of BELONGING, and a sense of SIGNIFICANCE.
That’s what the church community offers! (I learned about those two cravings from an urban sociologist about 40 years ago, and they still seem really helpful to me.)
When I read about what makes a community, even a CHURCH community, I just want to simplify it all down to relationships. A community is a web of healthy relationships where people’s gifts are identified and used for the common good, and where people are accepted, affirmed, loved, forgiven.
I crave that. When my church shows the marks of being a loving accepting forgiving place, I feel energized. When it feels unsafe, trivial, irritating, well, that’s a downer.
I went to a gathering of folks a couple weeks ago who were talking about the power of networks – sets of relationships formed around common interests, passions, values, purpose - networks that captured and expressed the health, the caring, the passion of the body of Jesus for the “outsider”. What a picture of the organization THAT is! The denominational bureaucracy suddenly looked like a living body, eyeballs connected to kneecaps in ways that were meaningful, and affirming, and exciting. I saw “organic” instead of hierarchical. It looked sweet.
If this is all about discovering gifts and offering them up for the common good, or even the uncommon good, then networking starts to look like community organizing. And that’s kind of churchy, and kind of deacon-y. It’s about us becoming “us-ier”. God at work in and through relationships to make us more like we’re created to be, more like Jesus. Could networking do all that? Could it make the CRC more churchy?
For a moment there I saw it – when a bunch of folks were together praying and thinking and creating in a safe environment with really good leadership. I don’t want to lose that! I want to share it!