Churches are part of a range of entities to which we can belong in some way, and by belonging mark out our position and identity in society: such things as charities, political parties, magazines, clubs, professional bodies, football teams, even some shops.
We might call these entities 'network servers'. We plug into them for meaning, identity, community. We like to get small items periodically, badges of commitment, tokens of belonging.
mechanisms of belonging:
wearing the clothes
selling raffle tickets
being in the audience
buying the CD
internet discussion boards
However, we mostly want to belong at a distance. We claim allegiance but fight shy of involvement. We find a balancing position between several rather than allowing any one to claim too much of us, because we don't want to be seen as 'single-issue' people [how boring they are].
Nevertheless, these allegiances are enormously important in constructing who we are, even though the core entity may be unaware of its significance in our lives.
So how does plug-in church work?
Since this is how churches actually work [rather than the large community of committed equals we hanker after] how do we embrace the process?
How do we resource the core teams?
What can they best provide?
Should we encourage uniqueness rather than uniformity?
Niche rather than National Health Service?
How do we resource those who claim allegiance but don't come?
the postal icon
a spiritual resource that can be sent as a mailshot
a token of the core activity for watchers who seldom attend
Does commitment equal attendance any more?
Does attendance equal commitment?
What are plug-in church's mechanisms of belonging?