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Spiritual Pyramid Schemes…

We live in an age of networks.

Most of us know that we can’t do anything truly visionary on our own.  And if we can, our visions are likely too small.  The internet (which is only about 4000 days old) has accelerated our capacity to network with one another.

The internet allows grassroots tribes to come out from nowhere, upending established institutions.  You’ve seen this with the Obama comapaign, and you can see it in the rise of new church networks and associations as denominations decline.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been sensing a rapid land grab for the church network of the future.  “Church networks” brings up over 3 million hits on google.  Rick Warren says he wants to create the ‘network of networks’, as with many other visionary leaders.

In techie terms it’s the platform.  Microsoft Windows is a computing platform, google is an online platform, you could say facebook is a social networking platform.  The biggest and broadest rules them all.

There are many advantages to a common platform or network.  The economies of scale, standardized best practices, and phenomenal impact.  Imagine if David Yonggi Cho of the 830,000 person Yoido full gospel church in Soul Korea asked every person to pick up one piece of trash each that day?

What’s astounding is that at the very foundation of these massive Christian networks, is just one man.

Sometimes I find it hard to tell if our networks are simply reflecting Christ’s heart for unity… or if they’re  pyramid schemes of influence?

May the biggest network win…?  What do you think?

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • stephen November 20, 2008, 3:31 pm

    the kingdom is a mustard seed. the power is small communities doing small things. they add up to something unstoppable. so, i think the test of any network regardless of its scale is how well it’s engaging and empowering individuals and small communities to kingdom action.

  • Paul Wilkinson November 23, 2008, 10:21 pm

    The scary thing about the analogy in your post title is that in many classic pyramid schemes (some now politely referred to as ‘multi-level marketing’) a lot of people signed up and made a token commitment, but as the months ticked by, not a lot of product was actually being sold.

    If affiliations, associations and mergers result in more people becoming Christ-followers, that’s great. If we’re just building our networks, that’s not so great.

    This morning I heard a sermon where the somewhat older pastor simply preached out of his own life experience. In many networks, all the churches are working off a common script and there is a loss of individual identity; in terms of the mode of outreach, the topics relevant to that particular area, and in the sermons themselves.

  • Lon November 24, 2008, 2:48 pm

    Stephen and Paul, thanks for the comments! It’s crazy how many networks, network, but nothing results of it. and Paul, you’re right on with the token commitments… all of us should be shaped by Christ uniquely and influencing other uniquely… everyone of us should have a unique blend of networks and influences that shape us… there’s no one size fits all strategy,network, or organization…

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