Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NETWORKING - MY ANSWER TO A CONCERNED READER


In my previous SC Letter I reproduced an article on the subject "NETWORKING - HELPFUL OF HARMFUL?" That Letter contained words like 'accountability', 'isolation', 'pooling resources', 'teaching', etc. I subsequently received a letter in response to this article. the writer being genuinely concerned that the article was all about man-made plans, manipulation and control. In case you have these same concerns, I want to let you know where I'm coming from. Today's Simple Church Letter is my reply to this concerned reader.

Dear George (not a real name)
Many thanks for your email regarding "Networking". I appreciate your caring attitude that comes through in the email and I take seriously your concerns.
I had hoped that my comments at the beginning of the email would make it plain that I too want nothing man-made. That was the reason for mentioning the man-made effort of tying two dog's tail together. That would be ludicrous and I feel the same about man-made efforts to create something that is not "born of God", (Matt. 15:13)..

In the previous Letter on this subject I mentioned our mini networking during a weekend. This was simply to facilitate a get together so that people from various groups could hear our visitor who is recognised as a 'father' (by some as an apostle) to small groups in four countries. We met, listened, enjoyed fellowship and that was that. We may do something similar one day, but only if we sense it is what our Father is showing us to do. Any further contact we may have with others will be for edification, encouragement and inspiration. We certainly won't be setting up any official accountability schemes. But, as our relationship with each other deepens some of us may chose to relate to fathers and mothers in the faith and in that sense have a family-like relationship with them. At the close of our weekend, we agreed to make no further plans to repeat what we had just enjoyed, but to leave plans for any further gatherings or whatever, in God's hands. In our local Cafe Church we don't talk about accountability but it is interesting that one of our brothers, who came from a church that stressed this, says he has never felt more accountable simply because he knows he is loved. Isn't that good!

George, I truly see the benefit of Spirit directed, spontaneous, non-directive networking. I see networking as getting to know some of our family members we haven't met before. Learning from them, sharing with them, being inspired by them. I want nothing to do with mechanical plans that come from the mind of man. Maybe I failed in the last Letter by not stressing this strongly enough, and I trust what I am saying now makes this clear to you. I also know that there is a thin line between doing what we want to do and what God wants us to do. Since Averil and I have walked away from organised religion we have endeavoured (imperfectly) to wait for God's peace before moving ahead or facilitating anything. At our home "simple church" we have sought to do the same.

Interestingly, I was reading today the networking between Paul, Barnabas, James, Peter and John in Galatians 2:6-10. It was a confirming of each other and releasing each of them to do what God had called them to do.

Regarding "isolation", I believe there is a difference between self-imposed isolation and the Moses-like isolation we experience when God puts us through a wilderness. The self imposed isolation where our pride stops us from relating to and recognising other believers and their gifts is harmful. I presume, George, this is what you had in mind when you used the isolation word.

My final thought is that words mean different things to different people. When we've had a bad experience with a word - as you have had with 'accountability', it obviously triggers a different reaction than it would  in somebody who has had a healthy experience of sharing their struggles with a valued, mature, caring person. Your letter has reminded me that we can't over communicate!

Once again George I want to say thanks for writing. Please never hesitate to write and if you wish - to comment on this Letter.

Every blessing

Jack

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