A Church that meets in 4 spaces…

7 Jun

Joseph Myers’ book The Search to Belong suggests that a church needs to be able to meet in 4 spaces. He uses sociological research to suggest that people experience a sense of belonging in four different spheres: public, social, personal, and intimate.

Public belonging is 
where 
we 
share 
a 
common
experience 
and 
connect 
through an 
outside 
influence. Th
is is like being a iPad owner, or playing bingo every week with 200 others, or being a Celtic basketball fan. It occurs when people connect through an outside influence. There is a certain brand or central figure that you have in common with others
Social belonging is
 where
 we 
share 
an 
authentic
‘snapshot’ 
of 
who 
we 
are, 
that 
shows 
what
 it 
would
 be like 
to 
have 
a 
personal
 relationship
 with
 us.
 It is like knowing the barista at the local coffee shop or a neighbor you might ask to pick up your mail while you’re away on vacation.
Personal belonging is 
where 
we 
share 
private
experiences, 
thoughts 
and 
feelings.
 It is like a good friendship that just picks up where you left off no matter how much time you may have spent apart.
Intimate belonging is like marriage, or a very few close friends with whom we share “naked” experiences, feelings, and thoughts.

What this might look like within the life of Ecclesia:
Public belonging of about 150 is about as large as we will get as a neighborhood church. We center around Jesus and share common values and experiences. There may be complete strangers there but you know you are connected because of the gospel.
Social belonging of about 25-50 people is the size of our Villages. These are people who’s names you know. You’ve possibly even had conversations with them and have served with them and feel that through your interactions you both know each other.
Personal belonging of about 6-12 people are the size of our Community Groups. These are the people you spend a lot of time with. You hang out with each other, paint with each other and have the freedom to call at any time.
Intimate belonging is about 2-3 people where you don’t feel the need to hide anything. These are in smaller accountability groups where you can offer each other support and challenge.

Alex Absolam claims that you can search throughout the scriptures and find this kind of gathering rhythm:

He claims that in the life of the 21st Century it looks something like this which is pretty close to the look of the flow of our community:

And because you can’t do everything when you get together you will find that certain environments lend themselves to certain values that should be focused on. He uses Celebration/Missional Community/Small Group for which in our language we would substitute Sunday Gathering/Villages/Community Groups:

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2 Responses to “A Church that meets in 4 spaces…”

  1. Tony June 21, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Good stuff, Rob. I was happy to hear about the accountability groups idea, writ large on our church. I think it’s healthy. Now, to think of a good name for them… what about… the Destroyers of Emotional Distance (DED)? No, I didn’t think so, either. 🙂

  2. admin June 21, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    I like that name. Let’s just start using it and see if it catches on.

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