Sunday, November 27, 2005

Harness the intelligence of your network

What the Church needs to harness for successful mission today is synergy. Yes, synergy.

I'm not employing jargon here - Synergy is the very observable truth that more can be accomplished by several working together than by the constituent parts each working alone.

The Bible talks about synergy. "By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped," says Ecclesiastes 4:12 (The Message) - just one reference of many.

One of the sharpest-emerging shifts the Church is realizing in mission is the shift from a power center giving out resources to releasing the power of those at the edges.

My colleague Bill Sunderland and I were mulling this and Bill came up with a brilliantly clear contrast. He said,
"The Old Model is resource-rich organizations trying to "give out stuff" to people; the New Model is discovering ways to connect and release all the resources of those within an ever-widening network."
Sometimes prophets come from the strangest places. The October 2005 Wired Magazine has an article on a guy, Tim O'Reilly, who seems to be two steps ahead of the rest in sensing where things are going. He urges any and all to rebuild approaches so that the intelligence of our networks is harnessed.
"When [Tim] O'Reilly talks to startups, he always asks them: 'What are you doing to harness the intelligence­ of your users?' Drawing on collective thought is a key principle of Web 2.0."
O'Reilly "dead-on inner compass," an accompanying article says, has led him to anticipate how the Internet has turned into an "architecture of participation" powered by the bottom-up nature of sharing and collective action.

For the techies in our midst, he's talking about such developments as "the barn-raising methodology of Wikipedia; group efforts like tagging; open source systems; Wi-Fi; open API's in ecommerce sites like Amazon, eBay, and Google; RSS; the spontaneous connectivity of Apple's Rendezvous; and dozens of other dots that are being connected to fulfill the original promise of the Net."

What's this mean for the Church, and mission? It means the Spirit of mission is calling us into collaboration across all sorts of lines: Geographical lines. Denominational lines. Ethnic lines. Class lines. National lines.

It's found in connecting "dozens of dots" using the new-found opportunities we can find in online group collaboration tools. (The link points to my collection of links to mostly-free online tools.) It's found in realizing how easily transportation allows advocates and champions of a cause to gather even though they are widely dispersed.
I want the Church to ask this question over and over again, all through its systems and structures: What are you doing to harness the intelligence of your networks? Don't try to become a fountain of resources - connect and release the powers a wide group has! Only then will we begin to discover the strength of Kingdom synergy that the Holy Spirit has for us - found in each other as we work together.
--Dave Hackett



At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to talk about "synergy" and making an incredible impact by working together, you need to check out the structure of the Bible League. From a relatively small center of 100 people working in the U.S., there are literally hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world creating incredible results for the Lord. The Bible League is equipping Christians in their own country to do the work themselves, working together to create thousands of new churches each year, hundreds of thousands of baptized Christians, millions reading God's Word each day!

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Lawrence Wood said...

Talking about The Church of the Hills, PCUSA, Duluth, GA, we 'commission' our teams (no committees)to do ministry without going to the Session for approval. They are given a job description, a whole dollar budget (they spend it as they wish), and told "get the mission of your team accomplished". No team, however, works in a cilo, but networks with ten other teams to maximize their efforts. Each elder coaches a team, but does not lead the team. Each team has a layperson Leader who consults with the Coach to insure the job description is fulfilled. No micro-managing of the teams by the Session. The Session focuses on spiritual leadership, casting the vision. The trust level required is enormous but has never violated in the ten year history of the NCD. It works for us. Synergy at its max. Larry Wood, Senior Pastor

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Stushie said...

Dave, I write an online daily devotional for our church members M-F - over a hundred of them get the first emai and then they send it out across the world. I get some amazing feedback from people in other nations.

More pastors should use blogging as a complimentary means preaching and teaching the word to their folks.

I also podcast the devotional - about four minutes the end of the week, our church people have had the equivalent of another twenty minute sermon.


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