Collective was imagined by stripping away all the assumptions about what Church needs to be
and rebuilding around shared meals, honest conversations, and the belief that together is better.
Among the MANY things that make Collective different than many more common expressions of Church, two stand out:
(a.) Church not being centered around a weekly worship service and
(b.) having Bi-vocational pastors.
Both are intriguing challenges so let's talk for about each for a minute.
(b.) *BI-VOCATIONAL MINISTRY:
Having bi-vocational pastors changes so much. Without a paid individual or staff whose sole job is to ensure everything keeps going like clockwork, everything is little more challenging, with a few more typos, and a little less “professional.” So why do it? Why not just hire a full-time staff? What if all those challenges are actually features?
Collective’s vision for Bi-vocational pastors: All of our Pastors are Bi-vocational by design. At Collective, we believe everyone can experience and share the love of God, and that all are called to serve. Within that, we also recognize that some individuals are called to special roles of equipping and shepherding. Pastors who are bi-vocational, live in the intersection of two callings. In addition to being Pastors at CollectiveMKE, the role is structured to allow pastors space to share their gifts in the greater MKE community outside of our church. The bi-vocational ministry also reduces the financial footprint of the Church and provides for greater generosity to flow into our individuals and local neighborhood needs instead.
I telling you this now because my other vocational is photography and my wedding season is hitting full stride - I shoot weddings almost every weekend throughout August and September. That means that, just like you, I will be coming from work when you see me. This is a huge feature of our community. Without a paid staff to rely on, we all must build together the community we want to be part of. We are all the staff. This also leads to the other unique aspect of Collective we are discussing today. (Read more about bi-vocational ministry and meet our bivocational pastors - HERE)
(a.) Networked Houses vs. Centralized Weekly Services.
One of the more challenging aspects of the way we “do church” as Collective is building community beyond the people in our individual house churches without being able to rely on a centralized weekly worship service. Collective was imagined as a networked church - distributed houses that we part of something bigger. The center of the church is the particular house and specific people that we meet with weekly to eat, pray, discuss, and celebrate communion with. And yet - even as we enjoy our community, it is comforting to know that two other houses are also connected to us, sharing in the conversation, and part of our community. There is an invisible “social fabric” that connects us even when we are not physically together.
The term Social Fabric refers to the invisible threads of connectedness and commitment that link and network our lives and resources. It is present in families, churches, communities, and really anywhere that people are present.
Peter Block talks about this fabric extensively in his book entitled Community:
“The social fabric of community is formed from an expanding shared sense of belonging. It is shaped by the idea that only when we are connected and care for the well-being of the whole that [healthy community] is created…”
Block also notes:
“[We must] distinguish between “bonding” and “bridging” social capital. Bonding social capital arenetworks that are inward looking, composed of people of like mind. Other social networks “encompass different types of people and tend to be outward-looking—bridging social capital.”
Bonding is the sort of Fabric we easily share within each of our houses. The more expensive kind of fabric, bridging, is the more challenging sort that allows us to connect beyond our house to the whole of Collective and further yet, to those who are searching for a community, those in our neighborhoods who have significant need, and the social injustices where dehumanizing attitudes and dispositions tear our societies apart.
We would love to hear your thoughts on both of these Collective distinctives.
1. How have you observed our church being different because of having bi-vocational pastors?
2. How can we strengthen the social fabric that connects collectives beyond our individual houses?
3. Where might “Bridging” social fabric be helpful in our broader communities?
4. What other thoughts and questions do these issues bring up for you?