Hospitable Space

> Turkish people were able to gather together to watch their team in the Euro finals because one of them had started a facebook to see how many Turkish people there were around in the north-east. Facebook, ebay, youtube are typical self-organising communities in our networking society. They don’t need community workers or developers. They don’t need leaders or rulers either. Facebook has over 75 million members with 250,000 joining every day.
On the other hand, membership of many other communities are in sharp decline. Membership of churches, voluntary groups, political parties all report falling memberships. Some cynically say that people are avoiding commitment – or are they avoiding commitment they are not willing to give. Or, are people leaving things where there are rules and regulations – where they are feeling they are being organised by somebody else?
What does this say to people who want to see the development of community?
The size of membership of Facebook indicates that I am not alone in wanting to develop community and belong to community. But I operate in an institution (because the Church of England operates as an institution)and as part of “leadership” implement initiatives which create frustration when the “followers” don’t respond. Myself and others who have been hide-bound by institutional community need to learn is that communities which flourish are those which are self-organising, and which are movements rather than institutions.
Isn’t this what the early church looked like to St Luke? He describes members meeting in one another’s houses, sharing everything. He underlines how fast the community was growing.
What Facebook offers is a space for people to move into. Maybe that is what the art of living is – providing spaces of hospitality in which people can belong and grow – which reminds me – I must go and lock the church. Oh dear!
This is what the Rhett Smith has to say on the subject:

Basically, people are organizing themselves in powerful ways that thwart the traditional means of organization through leaders in authoritative, hierarchical positions. No longer do people need to go through an institution to achieve their end goal. Many churches already know this, and still, so many other don’t. Those who recognize the shift will be in positions to harness the unbelievable creative power of a church community. Those who don’t will find themselves struggling to carry out the vision for their church community.

One thought on “Hospitable Space

  1. >Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I appreciate it. Yes, community is an interesting thing. We all want it, yet we don’t necessarily want it to be organised for us. As it was once said, I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member…This makes a lot of churchy/institutional stuff a bit tricky, but the key is probably in process rather than structure. How do I help people to be Church for themselves, without doing it for them?

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