The world around us has changed. Social media is allowing everybody to be seen, heard and connected to each other. In the past 24 hours, people around the world posted over 60 million Facebook status updates, shared more than 300 million comments on Twitter, and watched over 4 billion videos on YouTube. None of these websites existed 10 years ago. The internet is shaping how we see ourselves and how we relate to others. People want to be seen, want to be known, want to contribute to the global conversations.
We expect to be able to interact and participate. We want to have a voice and a value. We now have an opportunity to join the conversation and be part of the action.
There’s a quiet but powerful shift happening in the church today. A slow trickle of people are leaving the established church and forming Christ-centred communities. These groups of Christ-followers are seeking to live highly communal lives which reflect Jesus and impact their communities. Various names are used to describe these communities, such as simple church, house church, emerging church, new monasticism and organic church. Their meetings take many formats and are very different from how we normally think of “church”, but they share similarities with each other.
This new movement usually meets in circles. Everyone participates. Everyone is valued. The leadership is about facilitation and empowerment, not performance and status. The group conversations lead directly to group action. The way they do church relates to the way they do life. Relationships are deep and supportive. The community minister to each other and meet each others’ needs.
I believe the established church is missing out on something beautiful and powerful that these communities have discovered and embraced. I believe it is a tragedy if the established church loses its best thinkers and doers and never understands why. I believe that many churches are going to learn from the new church movement and become places for active learning, deep connection and transformational growth. I believe the church needs to rediscover circles.