(A) series of bunkers, sheds and silos storing already-harvested grain
(B) an organic, open network of interconnected relationships?
Of course, we know the answer is supposed to be [B]. However, [A] has often defined our functional reality. Dwight Friesen has written a book designed to expand our imaginations about the kingdom-shaped web of connections into which God is weaving His children.
In the hands of a less-insightful analyst, Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church Can Learn from Facebook, the Internet, and Other Networks (Baker) could have been a corny and derivative exercise. Friesen, an associate professor at Seattle’s Mars Hill Graduate School and pastor of an organic fellowship, instead gives us a thought-provoking exploration of how the body of Christ is wired. The “is” in the previous sentence is an important distinction of this book. Friesen is not spinning out ivory-tower theory though his writing reflects his academic bent. He’s not given to think-tank theorizing about the way he wishes the church would behave or could be structured if only they’d buy into his program.
He is determined to help us see the interrelationships that exist in our lives as the sinew and marrow of the kingdom. Here, discussing church leadership, Friesen disarms the oh-so-modern notion of “Big Dawg” management:
“If we are obsessed with control, we will never discover the wonder of participating in God’s connected kingdom. Leading connectively dethrones the tool of hierarchy and busts the control myth. Connective leaders serve as hubs, linking people to the very best of their resources and relationships unto God’s dream of fullness of life.”
Friesen clusters his chapters around the themes of seeing connectively, God’s networked kingdom, leading that connects, networked church and connective practices. Each cluster contains two or three chapters. Each chapter’s content includes a listing of additional resources as well as a few thoughtful discussion questions. Though Friesen uses computer-based networks as an organizing metaphor for the book, his purpose in writing is to help us see the web of relationships and connections our Papa-King has given to each one of us.
I do have one language quibble. Friesen avoids using the male pronoun for God, and ends up with a few tortured sentences like this: “This means that God does not just reveal Godself through a narrative but presents Godself to us in a person to be encountered.” Suffice it to say that every time I ran across one of these pronouns, my reading ground to a screeching halt. Mercifully, they’re few and far between.
Thy Kingdom Connected is a valuable read for anyone who cares about encouraging the Bride to be who she’s called to be. Recommended.