Tuesday, March 28, 2006

From Mainframe to Network - Changes in the Church

I want to share this article sent to me by Brad Herman at

I believe this article gives a clear illustration of an important movement in the Church today.

1. From Mainframe to Network - Changes in the Church by Terry Somerville
A great transformation in how we do church is under way. It seems that as a culture changes, God leads His people into new wineskins, if they are willing to go. The church that doesn't have fresh wineskins soon loses the wine! Today’s generation places high value on relationship and personal empowerment. The saints are looking for the ministry God has for them, and the centralized structure of the local church has not served this well. In fact, God means for every believer to be a minister and so He is moving ministry into the hands of every believer.
A good way to understand the transition is to think of moving from a "Mainframe Computer" to a Computer Network". I remember seeing the mainframe computer at the University of Western Ontario when I was about ten. It occupied a room as large as a house. It was very large, very expensive, climate controlled, specialized, high maintenance, and compared to today’s PC's , very slow. The focus was on a few programs run by qualified operators in a safe controlled atmosphere. Sound familiar? Bill gates was the radical thinker who began the PC revolution.
Today we are seeing a revolution in church wineskins not unlike the PC revolution. The "Mainframe Computer" model of Church. The form of tradition church is like a mainframe computer. Features - Large, expensive, operated by a few experts, focusing on a few tasks at a time, operates in one place in a highly controlled environment. Involvement - A few users (member) can have a dumb terminal (ministry), if one is available. They can only operate the program selected by the experts with supervision, after training .Focus - all focus is toward the mainframe. (church organization) It exists behind four walls. If it grows larger more terminals will be added, but there’s never enough for everyone. Applications tend to be specialized and not for the real world. The greatest vision of involvement is to be a programmer. The "Computer Network" model of Church. The emerging church is like a network of PC's. Features - Small, affordable, operated by anyone, flexible, mobile, and operates in any environment.
Based in connections not a single organization. Involvement - Each person has a fully operational computer (ministry), with software that fits the personal situation (an anointing from the Holy Spirit). Freedom not control! Each one is connected to many others in a network of relationships that help each other. Focus - Mainframes are still there, but not in control. The focus is on the application operated by each one, not a central computer.
Each computer (ministry) is significant and impacts the sphere each person is in (the world) and the network. (Body of Christ).This emerging "Network Church" (some call it a Third Day Church) is not based on an organization, but organized connections. Each "PC" could be an individual, a home church, itinerants, a marketplace minister running his business, a conventional church. It's a network of any believer or group walking in Jesus calling. The body actively interconnects because there is life! There is relationship, support, team ministry, leadership, and larger worship gatherings. Over the next few years the face of the church will change dramatically. While this illustration cannot completely illustrate the changes taking place, I hope it has been helpful. Terry Somerville http://www.totalchange.org/

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