Showing posts with label Network. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Network. Show all posts

10 May 2012

Groups of two or three

< Church is a network | Index | Groups of six to twenty >

Groups of just two or three have benefits and limitations. They are the smallest possible forms of church life and may develop spontaneously. They are powerful in communicating.

Groups of two or threeLast time we saw that there's only one church and it consists of a web of rich, multiple connections. At the smaller, local scale we are typically involved mostly with a particular group of some size.

If you are part of a larger church group I strongly recommend you also consider meeting regularly on a much smaller scale with no more than one or two others. If this is new to you, you'll find the dynamics and depth of sharing completely different.

The new partner (or partners) don't need to come from your larger circle such as a cell group or local congregation. In many ways it's better if they don't. If you are a Baptist why not meet with an Anglican and someone from a home church? All of you will broaden your horizons. Information will begin to flow through you between those larger groups which might otherwise have little or no interaction. These are significant benefits.

Another advantage of such small groups is that it's possible to meet daily. If you choose to try this you might like to keep the meetings very brief. Church of Two (CO2) is one suitable pattern for groups of two or three and requires about five minutes per person.

There's really only one important requirement, and it's this - the people in your group of two or three must be friends. Either you will start meeting with an existing friend or two, or you will need to become good friends.

What happens if a fourth person wants to join, or a fifth or sixth? The level of intimacy is eroded and the dynamics of the group will change. But there's a very simple way to avoid this. Instead of creating a group of four, one of the original three can help the newcomer by forming another group of two. When a third member is added, the helper returns to their original group. Alternatively the helper might become temporarily or permanently part of both groups.

Groups of two or three often form naturally. Let me tell you a story from my own life.

Ten or eleven years ago I began meeting at home with my sister and one or two other friends. Sometimes there would be just two of us, other times as many as six or seven. Gradually, as others joined us, we began to meet as two separate groups in different towns as this reduces our travelling needs.

Later, I was temporarily part of a small evangelical fellowship that was considering its future. In the end the decision was made to close down. As a result of meeting with them I became friendly with  Jim. Jim invited me to his home where he was regularly meeting with Sean one evening each week, we would chat about life, read and discuss the Bible, and pray together. We still meet like this, we are church expressed as a group of three men. A while later, Jim joined River Church in the town, but the three of us continued meeting as before.

I have also been meeting with Paul and Roger once a week during the daytime. at first for CO2, these days more for Bible study.  And I meet regularly with Sean, just the two of us. We have focussed at different times on hearing the Lord, outreach, and much more.

A couple of years ago I began going along to my wife's small group, part of Open Door. I'm not a member of Open Door but I'm very involved with the small group, it currently has around a dozen people each week.

Because I am part of all these groups I have connections through them to Open Door, River Church and more. I enjoy meeting in all these ways but the deepest and most intimate times are usually with the very small groups - just two or three.

Here are some questions
  1. How well connected are you within your church?
  2. How well connected are you with people in other churches?
  3. What differences do you see between connecting individuals and connecting churches?
Please leave a comment - http://jhm-old.scilla.org.uk/2012/05/groups-of-two-or-three.html#disqus_thread so far.

< Church is a network | Index | Groups of six to twenty >

05 May 2012

Church is a network

< No earlier items | Index | Groups of two or three >

Church is a typical network structure with rich connections at multiple levels, just like the internet. There are many connections and many clusters but only one internet. Church is just the same, lots of connections but only one church.

Diagram of part of the internetHow many churches are there in the world? We don't know, but it must be a very large number. How many in England? I have no idea. How many in the town of St Neots in Cambridgeshire where I live? Ten or eleven?

It's a trick question. Jesus really did not intend to start more than one church.

We have divided what was intended to be one. The church is his bride, a living temple built of living stones. One bride, one temple, one head who is Christ, one church.

Certainly Paul writes of 'our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae' or, 'Greet Priscilla and Aquila [and] the church that meets at their house'. And he writes of  'the church at Ephesus' or 'at Corinth'.

Surely this suggests multiple churches? I don't think so, rather the sense is of one church in multiple places. How can this work? And how are we to get back to such a state of affairs? The answer to both those questions lies in understanding the nature and function of networks.

A well-connected network will have many local clusters internally linked, and wider links connecting across greater distances between clusters. This kind of linking pattern is very familiar, it's typical of the internet, road systems, and electronic devices. In fact it's typical of most network structures that connect multiple points at a range of distances.

Let's see how this works in church life, every member is connected to the head, to Jesus. Taking that as a given we can move on to consider connections between individuals. Jesus said that where two or three gathered he would be there amongst them.

Two or three is clearly the smallest possible size for church. One person is not church. Every believer should be part of a group of two or three, it's the fundamental level of connection, it is the most intimate level and this intimacy is extremely valuable.

We'll look at groups of two or three in more detail in a future post.

Please leave a comment.

Questions:

  • Does the network principle help us understand the nature of connections in the church? 
  • What value do you see in meeting on the micro scale (twos or threes)?
  • Do you have personal experiences with groups this size that you'd be willing to share?
  • Are there any disadvantages of such micro communities?

See also:



< No earlier items | Index | Groups of two or three >

02 May 2012

Church as network - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

Networks are good for connection and communication. Examples include the internet and the road system (sometimes actually called 'the road network'). Connection and communication go hand in hand, network connections are the channels and network communications are the messages.

This index lists articles on aspects of church as a network.
    Awesome beauty and peace
  1. Church is a network - Rich connections at multiple levels
  2. Groups of two or three - These may develop spontaneously
  3. Groups of six to twenty - Rather like a family
  4. Groups of sixty to eighty - Workshops
  5. Dunbar and 130-160 - Maximum social connections

30 January 2012

Organic church life

Alan Knox uses the term 'organic church life'. There's a certain flowing, difficult to pin down, deep life about church that is well described by the term 'organic'. When we share this life we are sharing Christ himself as well as sharing ourselves.

A bejewelled networkAlan Knox gives some thought to the question 'Why is it so difficult to find organic church life?' and I very much like his answer. It's closely related to my recent post 'Circles of friends'.

Alan decides to use the term 'organic church life' rather than the more usual 'organic church', and his reasons are very revealing.
When I write about “organic church life,” I’m not talking about a certain church gathering, or a certain type of meeting, or a certain group of believers, or a certain method of organizing (or not organizing). Instead, I’m talking about believers sharing their lives with one another as they also share life in Jesus Christ.
I simply could not agree more! And I could not express it better.

Yet our minds are so anxious to organise and structure everything that we overlook organic church life in our rush to find something organisational in its place. We have insecurities that seem best met by plenty of structure and tradition and hierarchy. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but they are not where the life is. They have served us well in society and civil government, but they do not serve us well in finding and experiencing organic church life.

Structure is required as human life grows in scale. Very little structure is needed by three small children at play (though it's there if you look for it). A great deal is necessary to manage a large company, a big orchestra, or a nation.

Structure, tradition and hierarchy are useful tools for running large organisations, but in the day to day life of a family freedom, spontaneity and shared responsibility are much more appropriate. So too with organic church life. And that is why it's so hard to find even though it may be there right under our noses. Perhaps the truth is that it's not really hard to find, just hard to recognise until you get your eye in. And then you'll notice it everywhere.

But on the larger scale of the church worldwide, structure, tradition and hierarchy become necessary - right?

Wrong! Jesus said, 'I will build my church'. If we each focus on organic church life amongst our own circle of friends we can (and should) leave the rest to Jesus. He is the only one who knows how to do the job properly, only he can properly integrate our overlapping circles into the bejewelled network of networks structure of his design.

17 October 2010

NEWS - Worth taking a look at these

Listening to the Lord in Denver, USA, a book from Floyd McClung, focussing on the simple.A megaphone
  • Stories from the Revolution - John White discusses the ideas around 'smaller still and wider yet'. This involves Church of Two (CO2) and regional networks.

  • Felicity Dale's Blog - Felicity writes a short note on Floyd McClung's book, 'Follow'. See what she has to say and consider reading the book.

  • SimpleChurch Journal - Roger Thoman posts, 'Sometimes I think that, rather than focusing on simple church, we should really be focusing on the true simplicity of the Gospel'. Amen to that! Take a look and see what he's getting at.

  • Stories from the Revolution - John White writes about the important difference between a relationship with a book and a relationship with a person. He includes a video interview that reveals this difference in terms of personal experience.

Copyright

Creative Commons Licence

© 2002-2017, Chris J Jefferies

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
Real Time Web Analytics