Thy Kingdom Connected: Networking as Ministry

Readers are leaders.

I’m confident of this. Somewhere, from one of the hundreds of people I call friend, I heard that statement, and it stuck.

It motivates me to keep pushing into more ideas, into deeper purpose, into exploring the world of word-crafting. As Seth Godin says, “A book is a container for an idea.” So in this pursuit, a couple weeks ago I finished reading a fascinating book called, “Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church can learn from Facebook, the Internet, and other networks,” by Dwight J. Friesen.

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Friesen opens wide the doors of his thoroughly academic yet accessible writing voice to display the glory of networking. He makes the case that the essence of serving, as a leader or minister for the kingdom of God, is to connect. Without connections, there are no life-altering experiences of people with each other, no deep conversations to motivate us into forward motion, and no avenue of relation to God himself. Without connection, we are but scattered, insignificant particles. But together through shared connections, we find meaning. We are built more into ourselves as we connect with people different from us, the “other.”

The Church is a network

As we live with Jesus, we are called also to share life with others on the journey with him, fashioning our common identity as the Church. My friend Nate Ray likes to say the Church is marked by “shared life and mission of those following Jesus.” As local church bodies grow together, it is often through such organic connections as word of mouth. Of course, if someone loves her church, she is likely to express that love to people with whom she wants to share the joyous experience of the church community. “Thy Kingdom Connected” reveals the dynamic nature of the Church as an ever-changing network of various connections, of various depth and reach. As active participators in local expressions of the Church, we get to join in Jesus’ mission of connecting people with him by connecting to others and living out the grace and truth of the Gospel.

We are all networkers.

A number of phrases and paragraphs stood out as I read the book. Consider:

“Paradigm shifts start with a view of the world that is more or less coherent but still has a few vital unanswered questions. When some of those ‘vital unanswered questions’ begin to find resolution, those new resolutions have a way of realigning much of what was known and believed previously.”

  • As we come across ideas that are foreign or inconsistent with our current understanding of the world, we must account for these “new” factors. This moves us forward into careful consideration of how we can better understand the bigger picture.

“Networks provide context and relational meaning to individuals.”

  • We all need a community, a people to belong to, a tribe.

“In an I & It relationship, people do not actually meet even through they may be face-to-face. Rather than a genuine encounter, the I sees the other persona as an idea, or a conceptualization, and treats that person as an object…Human life is something of a dance between I & You and I & It…”

  • You know those moments in a conversation, as you get to know someone, where there seems to be a breakthrough? That is an I & It relationship blossoming into an I & You relationship. We can see past labels and concepts about each other, into the core of each other. This is essential in personal relationships and in connection to Jesus, to live abundant life.

“God does not just reveal Godself through a narrative but presents Godself to us in a person to be encountered.

  • God invites us to live in his story, but first invites us to know the main character, writer, manager and producer: himself.

“The mission of kingdom connecters is to actively participate in the blessing of others.”

  • As followers of Jesus, we are called to simply provide outsiders to faith an avenue of connection with God. We also have the potential to hinder others’ connection with God in many ways. Let us connect wisely.

“Connective leaders live relationally with those in their communities.”

  • Leaders, pastors, managers, staff — we are not required to be the center of knowledge and power, but facilitators of an environment within which others connect meaningfully with God and each other.

“Life begets life. Energy becomes energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”

  • This statement reflects God’s self-giving love for our well-being, which he desires for his Church to enact with each other and outsiders to faith.

“Our churches are more than the sum of the people gathered; they are the people gathered in Christ, united in story, ritual, and missional living.”

  • No mere social club or organization, the Church is unlike any other institution because it is uniquely begotten of God and inextricably woven into the story of the world, beholding the glory of the grace and truth of Jesus.

These are a few of my favorites. There are too many fantastic thoughts presented in the book to share here. Contact me on Twitter for more insights I gleaned from “Thy Kingdom Connected.”

How and to whom are you connecting?

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2 responses to “Thy Kingdom Connected: Networking as Ministry

  1. While being thoroughly embedded in my own church context (the Salvage Yard), I have found it necessary to connect with other church communities and broaden my understanding of what is going on in Christianity in the Twin Cities. I have often said, in regards to the Twin Cities, that “the harvest is plentiful and the workers are many!” We have so many individuals and communities that are isolated from each other; we need to do all we can to unite the Body in working together in the mission of God.

    Also, my friend Mike Schellman and I have been working on sociometrics for our church. Through sociometrics, we are understanding not only how individuals are connected to other individuals, but how individuals are connected to other communities. This helps us understand where connections need to be strengthened or encouraged, as well as where people are disconnected from the immediate church or in other larger church contexts. We are developing our method and want to do more and more work in it, possibly with other churches as well!

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