Editor’s Note: Brian Sanders is a long time friend of Exponential and will be speaking at the 2018 Exponential Conference on the 7 critical shifts for moving beyond mega and multisite. Brian and over 150 other national speakers will be part of Exponential 2018. With 40 tracks, 200+ workshops, and 1,000s of other like-minded leaders, you won’t want to miss it – register here.
Brian recently completed an Exponential ebook The Network Church: 7 Critical Shifts for Moving Beyond Mega and Multisite. You can download the FREE ebook by clicking the button below. Enjoy this guest blog post from Brian on the Networked Church.
It was the summer of 1789 in France. The revolution had convened its National Assembly to consider the daunting question of royal veto. The issue, in this new government, was whether or not the king would be allowed veto powers over legislation that others create. When the time came for the vote, those who supported the King—those who wanted to keep things as they had always been—were asked to move to the right side of the room, presumably reflecting the King’s favor. Those who opposed the King holding this unilateral power, which represents change, stood on the left. And so it was that we have inherited these terms “right” and “left” to signify our political proclivities.
Even beyond politics, though, we are now meant to define our position on any issue as either “conservative” (the “right”) or “liberal” (the “left”) because the question of sides continues to be an archetypal one. When we are faced with any question, we are always faced with the possibility of protecting or conserving the status quo and the possibility of liberating or changing it.
So what about the work of shaping and leading the church today?
Is it primarily a work of conservation or liberation? Surely, it is both. Since every incarnation of the church is both corrupt and incomplete, we have to keep our hearts open to change. And since the church is also something preserved and protected in every generation by the sovereign work of God’s Spirit, so too should we consider some things off limits to change.
The challenge is telling the difference between what we should and should not change. The ecclesiological question that still fascinates me is this: How do we hold on to orthodox Christianity—the timeless truth of Scripture and the lessons learned from church history—while also acknowledging that the church in every generation is imperfect but must adapt and contextualize or die?
In one sense, this has become my life’s work—to create and convene a community that is at once new and old; it is orthodox and a product of its time. The UNDERGROUND is that community, and the story of our ten-year experiment will be more fully fleshed out in my upcoming book, UNDERGROUND Church.
We wanted to give a taste of this book’s ideas through a short eBook called The Networked Church, which explores one of its chapters, uncovering seven shifts (or changes) that the church needs to consider in the pursuit of its liberation in our time. These seven shifts are both predictive and descriptive, as our community has imperfectly tried to embody and demonstrate their veracity.
I am thankful to Exponential for the chance to share a small part of what we have learned.
Brian Sanders is the founder and Executive Director of the Underground Network, a new form of church designed and empowered for mission. A serial entrepreneur, Brian has helped to start hundreds of missional enterprises, including churches, non-profits, and businesses all over the world. Based in Tampa, the Underground now has movement hubs in 10 cities and 5 countries.