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.”



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Posted on 12-21-2011


  1. Tripp Hudgins @anglobaptist says:

    December 22nd, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I like that you titled the post “reestablishing…” because we’re not inventing but reinventing, reestablishing. At my previous church we would talk about this…One member is an urban planner. He said that once upon a time it was thought that cul-de-saqs helped to make community, that if you placed a park, a school, and a shopping center in a certain order in and near a suburb, then you would have community. And it worked. He says now all the rules have changed. There’s aren’t any that anyone can recognize. Community, he suggested again and again, is reinventing itself. We are reestablishing how and perhaps even why we come together as community.

    All that to say that I think it is participatory…always. Perhaps the trick is that we now participate in one another’s lives in new ways. I dunno. It’s hard to pin down.

    Thanks for this!

  2. Knightopia via Facebook says:

    December 22nd, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    as a Readability user, you can save any Web page or article to read later, which is really awesome (esp. for someone like me who comes across far more great content than I have time to read). And my Web browsers are not too happy about me keeping dozens of tabs open all the time 😉

  3. Drew Downs says:

    December 27th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I wanted to read this anyway, but now I have to! Thanks!

  4. The Language of Participatory Church: ROI | | the online home of Steve Knight says:

    January 4th, 2012 at 6:37 am

    […] us’)!” That’s not enough of a shift. In his book Practicing the Way of Jesus, Mark Scandrette talks a lot about “experiments” in life-change and gives (in the supremely helpful […]

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