Inhabiting Social Space

It was great to have Rich Robinson and John White from 3dm Europe with us on Tuesday. Over lunch they spent some time with leaders who are interested in our wider network then in the evening they were with MSC leaders.

For the evening we asked Rich to explore an issue that feels like its a key breakthrough area for us right now: helping MSCs inhabit social space well.  The term “social space” is borrowed from a theory within sociology which identifies different sized groupings that form community.   Social space describes the extended-family sized group that we have identified as a missing ingredient in many mission strategies.  This is the grouping of between 15 and 40 people that is small enough to care but big enough to dare.  The kind of group where everyone can know each others name and a bit about their life,  but not so small that joining in would be awkward for a new person.

We believe social space is the ideal size for MSCs,  but most don’t start at that size.  They grow.

Rich shared a lot of great thoughts about how to grow a community into social space around 6 Cs.  I’m only going to mention 3 here,  so if you didn’t make it on the night you’ll have to talk to someone who was,  but here are a few of my notes.

Context:  Good MSCs are clear about the context they are trying to reach.  Ask yourself where social space already exists,  how could you inhabit that authentically.   If there’s nothing there yet what could you build that might serve the context best?

Combine:   Rich suggested one or more smaller MSC might combine to create something bigger together from time to time.  A pair of communities could do this twice a month for a period of time and each end up with a really good social-sized monthly event.

This struck me as a really good idea!  but I want to offer one health warning,  if we just approach this with the mindset of “who can I get to help my MSC grow” then we’ll probable end up frustrated and disappointed.  Feel free to invite other MSCs to combine with you but, even better than that, do be thinking about which other MSCs your community might be able to help serve.

Celebrate:  Churches and communities that learn how to celebrate well are more likely to be attractive to other people.  How well does your MSC party?   Can you get better at celebration?

To those who were at the evening:  What particularly struck you from the night.  Please leave a comment below to tell us what it prompted in you.

Have a great weekend!