Joseph Myers finishes The Search to Belong with three main ideas. I’m still working out implications for our community, so I just want to throw them out here on the blog and invite some conversation around the ideas.
Environmentalists Instead of Programmers
Myers suggests that in order for churches to cultivate real community church leaders need to stop acting like “programmers” and start acting like “environmentalists.” Programmers attempt to control people and results (“putting” people into small groups), while environmentalists simply seek to cultivate environments where people can connect spontaneously, in all four spaces (public, social, personal, intimate).
“No relationship survives in one space for the entire life of the relationship.” In other words, all relationships will at some time experience “phase shifts” from one space to another, which usually causes tension. Additionally, one relationship can exist in all four spaces simultaneously. For example, the way I am “with” my wife is different when we are watching a movie on the couch than it is when we are having a party in our home.
Searching For a Front Porch
Myers indicates that the main need in our culture seems to be a “front porch” type space, an environment that isn’t as intimate and personal as being in someone’s home, but isn’t as public as just being out on the street. Some churches have made their “foyer” into this kind of space, but many people are still look for this kind of social space in which to spend time and see what connections develop spontaneously.
So those are the ideas, in a nutshell. I’d love to hear what y’all think about this stuff, especially as it relates to church communities.