One of the things I love doing is taking ideas from one discipline or arena of thought and transplanting them in another. Sometimes it’s too easy… accompany if you will into the business realm and the ideas concerning customers and the company orientation toward them. Don’t worry, I won’t have to reinterpret much, if anything — this is good stuff.
So a post by Christopher Carfi put me onto another by Fred Wilson… both fill out the picture — start with Wilson and move onto Carfi. But notice this:
“We” companies are built by and for a community of users. Everything (including profits) flows from this core value of serving the users. We companies and their profitability are incredibly sustainable.
“They” companies are traditional companies that seek to optimize profitability at the expense of everything else. These businsses [sic] are not sustainable and they tend to overreach and ultimately end up in a long and steady decline.
Microsoft is the poster child for a “they” company.
Craigs List is the poster child for a “we” company.
Can you see where we’re headed? Do you want to build a “they” church or a “we” church? Oh, but there’s more… I’ve previously applied Metcalfe’s Law to social networks as well, but follow Christopher Carfi there as well. He draws it this way:
Transactions => Conversations => Relationships => Community
He writes, “Grow the community, and it’s possible for all community members to benefit.” In context he’s talking about corporate profit, but substitute the concept of accomplished objectives there. What I’m writing for Wikiklesia is my contention that the community needs to be non-hierarchical in order to function at its best. Craigslist vs. Microsoft. Let the users run the show, and everyone benefits exponentially: don’t leave it up to the few to do everything for the “others.” We, not They.
“Serving outside the church over Serving inside the church”
While I understand the sentiment (I really do) it still gives me pause. It happens far too often that people are woo-ed into the church by caring and kindness and then expected to be completely healed and ready to serve once they’ve come in. Could be my own pain talking, but we may need to make a point of taking care of our own, too, if we expect to be taken as genuine when we’re caring for others. I’d rather see those two as equals rather that one over the other – but that’s just my perspective. Of course, I’m thinking of serving people rather than programs in both cases.
That’s an interesting point that I didn’t really consider.
I guess it really comes down to where you feel the balance lies in your current situation. It’s one of those things that probably should be equal, but in my current situation I would say the focus lies more on the serving inside the church rather then outside the church.
I guess we need to be careful how we draw the dichotomies, as they could easily be false. I’m not a fan of the inside/outside distinction myself. Given different perspectives and distinct situations I think both comments make sense — Scott probably in an organized church struggling with the energy sent into inward-pointing programs, and Cindy-lu who had enough of that and left… such that this particular point means less than it would. I may be getting Cindy-lu’s position wrong, but it could be two sides of the same coin… whatever the program is, when we pour so much into it that we neglect one another, that’s not much of a Kingdom expression. Perhaps some churches will focus so much on the needs of those outside the community that the ones inside wonder if they should take up a drug habit so someone will notice them? Anything out of balance can become unhealthy.