The local body has an opportunity to be more connected than ever before. Through the networking of parachurch organizations, such as CBNW, a trusted system of churches has been established regionally which allows the opportunity to serve many local bodies.
As technology has increased the ability for networking to become automated and instant, the burden of shepherding is heavier as needs flow in at a pace that the body of Christ has never known. This is true in all aspects of shepherding including teaching and supplication.
Just as need has crept into the public and digital forum, so has need fulfillment. Businesses such as Craigslist, Angieslist and social networks such as The Buy Nothing Project and the Freecycle Network have sprung up to answer these needs. Utilizing technology and the goodwill of others, which we know to be an outworking of the image of God in humanity, they have become a strong and reasonable alternative to interdependence in a local body. In this way, technology has outmoded that trait of the first century church… charity.
Where is technology in the meeting of immediate needs for the local regional church?
The Scriptures speak of first century charity as Luke 2 tells us:
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.”
The church was an interdependent organism. Their interdependence was a means by which God’s character rang as true to the watching world. This is, sadly, a counter-cultural notion in today’s society. Giving one’s possessions and skills to be used for the common good of the body runs contrary to a capitalistic set of values. This, of course, makes this type of exercise move from the realm of a peculiar mechanism into the realm of a possibility to apologize that aspect of our faith which shows how God provides for those who rely on him and his systems. To re-establish a system of interdependence, where skills and goods are freely shared amongst the local church… not in social contract… but in Christian duty, is to say that, “Our God provides.” It affirms this truth to those who have already professed it. It confirms this truth to those who are waiting to see the church act in a way which is set apart from the world’s methods of social contract masquerading as altruism.
A Missing Link
Yet, such as systems for churches to easily share with one another and distribute their needs seems to be lacking in the mainstream mind of Pastors, it seems that a Pastor cannot easily meet the extraordinary needs of his congregation without farming them to an outside secular source. In a day where such resources are easily attainable, this may seem a petty complaint, but it is not how it is meant to be. A Pastor should be able to rely on first solutions coming from within the local regional church. Indeed, we are to share our burdens with each other. A lack of a system here, combined with the abundant presence of secular need fulfillment systems, such as Craigslist, teaches Pastors and congregants to rely on secular solutions rather than to share those burdens with each other. We should ask our congregants if they believe they can rely on the local regional church to meet their needs. Can they find a lawyer in the church? Can they find job opportunities in a church that they don’t attend? Can they find extra baby bottles from a Christian living a block away who attends a church they’ve never met? If they cannot comfortably answer, “Yes, I can find those things in the Church.” Then, we are missing an important aspect of our proper attachment to each other.
Let us Reason Together
Can this system be reasonably established. I believe the simple answer is yes. A system could, rather simply, be established between Pastors. This could help to foster the kind of first century Christianity that drove the world to salvation. I have outlined how a system might work below:
To create such a system would need several pieces to line up in a dynamic way. As I understand it, there are two basic areas where these needs are most problematic. The first is a philosophical acceptance of a meaningful covenant relationship. The second is the application system to foster that relationship into something accessible and reliable:
Some Possible Difficulties in Philosophy
- Congregants to be willing to share their needs with a Pastor.
- A pastor to be willing to share a congregant need with the greater church.
- Pastors to be willing to know each other and become a conduit for information between members.
- Members being willing to contact other members.
- Members being willing to share their resources/skills with other members in different bodies
Some Possible Difficulties in Application
- An application capable of acting as a digital bulletin board
- Security for the network
- Maintaining a user database that is secure
- Hosting of the application and maintenance of the site
- Teaching an interface to Pastors of varying degrees of technological skill
Let Us Count the Cost
As we weigh the difficulties involved in implementing such a system, let us remember to give a proper weight to what could be gained by listing a small number of the possible outcomes:
- The possibility to be closer to a first century version of Christianity
- The presence of a living apologetic method
- A meaningful avenue to a true fulfillment of a biblical love for each other
- The simplification of distributing resources amongst the local (regional) body
- A quicker method of distributing resources
- A truer inventory of resources
- Pastors who regularly communicate with each other
- Congregants who learn to know each other
- An affirmation of a universal narrative amongst local believers.
I propose that we begin the discussion of implementing a resource that meets the immediate needs of our local and regional body. Technology has been utilized effectively to bring together strangers in a way that is faster and more organized than the systems that we have in place for doing what we ought to be able to do. Let us prayerfully use such a system and such technology to help us show God’s love and take care of God’s people.