Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding Ways to Network

The denominational world is changing. I continue to read articles about the post-denominational era and the changes taking place in both national denominations and state-wide religious judicatories. I do not know (and I really do not think anyone else does either) how our changing world will change our denominational relationships in the coming years. I do believe real change has already started. In many respects the churches already know this (at least the healthiest congregations). Churches are exploring and finding new ways to collaborate for ministry. It is not just individuals who are looking at denominational issues in new ways. It is also local churches.

As the globalization of our communities, societies, and nations continues to take place, churches have new opportunities. The world is getting smaller. Communication and collaboration is getting easier. Churches are no longer as dependent upon the denomination as they once felt they were. They are also no longer in the closed denominational systems they once comfortably operated within. Every church is now being exposed to new resources, new ideas, new strategies and new potential relationships. In some ways congregations are becoming a part of a larger Christian community which is often much more engaged and helpful than denominational organizations have historically been.

Now remember, I am the Executive Director for a state-wide Baptist organization. Churchnet is a Baptist network serving churches. Churchnet is a ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. “Churchnet” is much more than a new name. It is an acknowledgment that the world has and continues to change. These changes mean we need to adapt how we serve local congregations. Churchnet is really an expression of our desire to create a new paradigm denominational entity which is not focused on the denomination, but on the churches we serve. Our goal is create an environment that allows congregations to collaborate at a level and in ways they have not been able to before.

Most of the dynamic congregations today look for help from other churches. They are not looking to the denomination for the next great resource or innovation. They are watching and sharing with other churches. We believe our mission is to facilitate this process. Our new initiatives (an online Resource Center, an online Training Events, a Relationship Network to facilitate online discussion groups, a Consultant Source which allows local church experts to help each other, etc.) are all designed to allow churches to serve churches. We believe churches can be more effective as we learn from each other, help each other, and collaborate with each other.

I want to encourage you to become a member of Churchnet by registering on our site (www.thechurchnet.org). It is free and open to everyone. Encourage your church member and friends to register. Let’s build a collaborative community as we serve Christ today. Maybe we can help shape the next generation of denominational organizations. Maybe we can build a network that allows churches to serve each other.

This article was written for Churchnet's e-newsletter.

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