As I prepared for my last semester at Mars Hill Grad School a mysterious class showed up on the schedule. I didn’t need it to graduate, but I registered for it with no hesitation. The class was taught by Dwight Friesen and was called Kingdom of God and the New Sciences. The class came out of Dwight’s ongoing research on how scale free networks might shape how we understand relational connections in the church.
It was a fitting class for my last semester — serving as culmination and outworking of what I learned at Mars Hill. It helped me shape those thoughts into the form and structure that Austin Mustard Seed is becoming. The content of the class was based on Dwight’s research for a book he was preparing to write — a book that has now been published: Thy Kingdom Connected.
Reading through the book these past few weeks has been a gentle and encouraging reminder of what I hope my life and our church community can be about. The way of being the church that Dwight describes is a beautiful vision, and the passion that I experienced in person comes through in his writing as well. Dwight takes on a complex subject and makes it both accessible and applicable.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes from the book to sit with as you get a taste of Dwight’s heart. But before you move into those, let me encourage you to pick up this book if you are involved in forming or leading any kind of community. While it is written with church leadership in mind, I think you will find many of the principles apply to any organization.
“Simply connecting while living in the way of Christ is how the kingdom of God transforms the world.”
“The goal of connective leadership is not to gain more links to increase the scale of your own influence, but to help those connected to you make meaningful connections that will help them find fullness of life.”
“Leading connectively in God’s networked kingdom is not about controlling, but shaping the contour of your network through linking and resourcing unto fullness of life.”
“Switching metaphors, pastors of Christ-Commons are like farmers. No farmer can make a crop grow. Farmers work the soil so it is nutrient rich; they irrigate, select seed, and maintain equipment; and they pray, knowing that their primary work is stewarding the conditions for God to produce life.”
“Churches exist so that the identity of the people gathering together, both as networked persons and as a community, are being formed by the good news in such a way that they actually go about their lives living in the way of Christ.”
“To determine how your church is doing, don’t gauge it by the individuals in your church, or even in comparison to what other churches are doing; go to God’s bigger narrative. How is your local faith community participating with God in God’s dream for the re-creation of heaven and earth? How is your church participating in the flourishing of God’s dream of abundant life for all?”