I have done a series of three posts so far in relation to Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody.
I have also taught on small world and networks for our CMS team and this has catalysed a lot of reaction and discussion which has been great. In the comments on the last post small worlds there is a brief discussion around what this means in relation to the catholicity of the church - or put another way the need to be connected in to the wider church. So this part four isn't directly in relation to the book but is sparked off this series. In respsonse to Ben and Steve's comments I have had a go at an improvised reworking of 1 Corinthians 12:12-end - the Network of Christ.
Just as a network, though one, has many small worlds, but all its parts interconnect, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit and given a portal into the wider network of Christ - whether Orthodox, Emerging, Missional, New Monastic, Catholic, Anglican, Post-denomnational, Pentecostal, Baptist, Ana-baptist etc or any blend of the above the Spirit flows through our networks. So the network of Christ is not made up of one small world but of many interconnected small worlds and hubs.
If the Australian missional communities should say 'because I am not focused on worship I don't connect into the wider network' it would not cease to be part of the global network of Christ. And if the French Catholic church should say 'because I can't feasibly imagine homogeneous missional church planting I don't belong to the wider network it wouldn't cease to be part of the global network of Christ either. If the whole network lived in the small world of Alternative Worship where would the growth of African churches be? If the whole network lived in the Anglican small world where would the prophetic passion for justice of the anabaptists be? But in fact in the network of Christ God has catalysed and flows in lots of small worlds just as God wills. And the network is such that the Spirit creates an environment where She flows and small worlds emerge as the Spirit beckons the network into the future.
If there were just one small world with no external connectors where would the network be? The redemptive gifts that the Spirit has distributed throughout the wider network of Christ would not flow. They would remain static. So don't let the small world of which you are a part ever say 'I don't need you' to another small world and don't despise the gift of external connection. To be in Christ is to connect to Christ and to participate in the Network of Christ where the Spirit flows. And be careful that you don't just notice the hubs that seem important or powerful or branded and neglect the weaker or less connected small worlds. God flows in these parts, distributes gifts there and has a special love for them. And the small world in which you mostly participate is most likely to be energisd by connection to other small worlds which are the most different to you so don't be tempted to just connect to others who seem like you.
You are the network of Christ and each one of you is connected and participates. And the Spirit flows in and through you and has distributed different kinds of gifts and roles - pioneers, catalysts, networkers, artists, mission leaders, loyal radicals, local practitioners, environmentalists, guardians of flow. Are all external connectors? Are all local practitioners? But eagerly desire the greater gifts to flow throughout the network of Christ.