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Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All Paperback – April 8, 2011
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Whitsitt envisions a church where openness and inclusion don’t just affect what happens at the front door but become the cornerstone upon which the entire structure is built. (Eric Elnes, Host, "Darkwood Brew" and author of "The Phoenix Affirmations")
God calls us together because of who God is. God is not a dry, detached singular being, but a holy community. We are made in God’s image. So we are designed to be together. The church needs to hear, believe and live this reality in every facet of its life. Together we are smarter, better, even more faithful, than any one of us can possibly be individually. Any attempt to limit the openness, the variety and innovation of the whole in the name of the few (or the one) inevitably undercuts the life of faith. In part, this is the message of Landon Whitsitt’s Open Source Church. But there’s much more here. What we need today is churchly thinking for “What’s Next.” And, as Landon knows, “What’s Next” will certainly not be a single model of church. Of course, there has never been just one single way of being the church any way – never! In this book, Landon provides a vivid and compelling picture of “What’s Next.” Welcome to the future! (Michael Jinkins, President and Professor of Theology, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary)
Landon Whitsitt’s vision of a new kind of church is revolutionary and hopeful, particularly for faithful men and women who feel they are locked into systems that are shutting down with very few reasons to hope for a reboot. What Chris Anderson’s book ‘Free’ did for the tech and business sectors, Landon Whitsitt’s 'Open Source Church' looks poised to do for the Church -- open up access points to new ways of thinking about how we function and who we are. This is not a book about churches embracing new media and new technology. This is a book about our churches installing a whole new, participatory operating system. The innovation we need for forming faith communities in this new era of mission will come from this kind of thinking. (Steve Knight, Community Architect, TransFORM Network (www.transformnetwork.org) and team member for the Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation)
Whitsitt offers a model for changing church structures that could work. He translates the principles of open-source technology to imagine a new framework for fluid and faithful mission. If you are searching for more responsive, agile, and inclusive-of-all-generations ways to organize church life, read this book. (Melissa Wiginton, Vice President, Education Beyond the Walls, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary)
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I'm not sure most church leaders are ready for this yet, and I'm not sure what those of us who are ready for it are going to do with it. But everyone leading a congregation or a denomination should read it. And if they don't buy it, they'd better be able to say why without simply quoting the Bible.
I have an odd relationship with these books (and I've read a lot of them). On the one hand, I basically agree with the vision for Christianity they are attempting to describe. On the other hand I'm a deep skeptic when it comes to attempts to write grand meta-narratives about history we're still in the midst of. I think it's about as reliable and as convincing as astrology. Everyone thinks the time they personally are living through is the MOST IMPORTANT TIME EVER. I don't think we're in the middle of some new reformation, or inventive age, or new great awakening bla bla bla. Or maybe we are, but if so we won't see it until centuries after the fact. The cynic in me says this is precisely why writing books proclaiming this period of time as pivotal is profitable no-risk business. If you're wrong no one will remember, and if you're right everyone will think you were some kind of visionary.
Landon completely overcomes this objection of mine by keeping it real. To illustrate I'll compare his book with one of the worst offenders in the vague meta-narrative category: Diana Butler Bass' book Christianity After Religion.
DBB cobbles together a very loose historiography in her book. She uses some quantitative data here, mortared together with some anecdotes over there, and a hefty dose of poetic license to call the entire period from the 1970′s till now one giant "Awakening" (still ongoing). Landon by contrast doesn't try to press diverse movements decades apart from each other into a single narrative.Read more ›