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Tipping Point

21 December, 2002 4:28 PM

Reading more of the Tipping Point again this morning (for my previous thoughts on it go here) and again found myself connecting the ideas there to starting new churches. In particular I was drawn to his ideas about how epidemics often spread out of small networked small groups rather than super large ones. The idea is that 150 is about as many as can be in an effective organisation or community. Once a group goes over that it is inevitable that smaller 'clans' will begin to develop within it as it becomes impossible for members to maintain relationships (or to even know) with all others in the group. This is why most armies keep units of soldiers to under this number, likewise anthropologists have found that this is the average number of many tribes of indigenous people groups around the world.

His thesis seemed to be that if you want to start an idea epidemic, then one of the strategies that would help it to be successful would be to utilise small communities or groups. He gave examples of when groups splitting into two when they got to the magical 150. Through this they were able to sustain real growth.

This fits with alot of my thinking of late when it comes to Church. My experience of churches has been largely with two communities who in my observations have struggled a little with getting much larger than this magical 150 number of committed members. New people come regularly and even join, but there is also an outward flow as people move on to other local congregations. Churches have to find new and creative ways and models of growth if they are to be sustainable and take seriously the mission that we've been left with to make disciples.

Its my desire that Living Room be an entity that retains its smallness and which grows through multiplying and spawning new communities of faith - not the only feasible approach to the problem I'm sure, but one I'm committed to move towards. Any thoughts my friends?

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