Reestablishing Organic Participatory Systems
In his new book Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love, Mark Scandrette writes:
“A movement is afoot, in the church and society, to reestablish organic participatory systems where we can band together to create local communities of shared values and practices.”
Examples of this movement may not be what we consider “the mainstream,” but if we are looking, there are many out there. One example that I’ve been keenly investigating recently is unschooling. I also understand there’s an increasing interest in an alternative economy based on the old-school idea of bartering. I haven’t engaged in that much, but I have had some experience with the free economy, supported by online networks such as Freecycle and BookCrossing. There’s also some exciting models being developed by Relational Tithe and HopeMob.
In terms of the church, what I think Scandrette is alluding to (if I may attempt to read into his book a little bit) are experiments in Christian community such as neo-monasticism, house churches, and “tribes” (to name just a few).
“Tribes” are what Scandrette calls the learning labs he’s been involved with developing through his work with Re:Imagine. Scandrette’s book is a great guide to how these communities have been developed and how anyone can organize similar experiments in their local context, wherever that may be.
I find it interesting that Mark writes, “Although we think a tribe is a basic form of church, we don’t necessarily call it that.” As we think about reimagining religious/faith communities in a way that moves toward greater participation (participatoriness?), we are going to have to grapple with the baggage that some of our language has acquired over the years — including terms like “church” and “Christian.”