I wrote this blog with some extra input on social space, assuming you have read "the Diamond of Discipleship”;-)
Social space is a way of expressing in which group of people you move and how large that group is. Your class, your football team, your colleagues - these are all examples of this. The different types of groups and group sizes will give different dynamics. In the overview below you can see roughly what that could look like for the different "settings".
The Church (1)
In my book "The Diamond of Discipleship" I mainly reflect on group sizes within the church. The group of 100 represents the Sunday church service, the group of 10 the cellgroups, and the 1-on-1, often the big missing, represents the most personal relationship.
One element I only touch in the book is sis what we call the "missional community." It is the group that lies between the cellgroups and the large group. Because the group is larger than a core group, it will be able to achieve more. Leadership is more important, you have to arrange more, but it can all still be done on an Excel sheet. No fancy tools needed. The forms and ways of organization that you will find in the group of 100 are not yet necessary here. The sense of involvement and working together are still high. The missionary community has a common goal that connects the group together. Alan Hirsch calls this community "communitas" - a community with a task/purpose.
My question to you: What does the "missionary community" look like in your context and how is it interpreted?
The Church (2)
In the Bible you do not come across terms such as "church service" and "cell group". The concept is seen, of course - and you can see that in my book, but the vocal as such not really. It is therefore interesting to look at those concepts in the Bible that have to do with social space and see what we can learn from them.
In the Bible we often read about: In the Bible you often read about:
- marriage - the ultimate 1-on-1 relationship
- the family - the small group
- the congregation - the larger group; often used in the context of house church, maybe several families gathering together (30-70 people). And sometimes this refers to bigger groups (70-150 people)
Of course, not everything you read about marriage is directly applicable to every 1-on-1 relationship, but you can see words like love, accountability, loyalty, which can help us to understand and interpret the dynamics of the 1-on-1 relationship better. The same is true of the instructions we read in the Bible about the family and the congregation.
Leadership, for example. In marriage and in the family you see that the man is called to lead. In the congregations you read about elders and deacons who take a role of leadership. This teaches us a lot when it comes to how we can fill in leadership within the different social spaces.
A few questions for you: Which social spaces do you live in? Does the Bible give you tools you can apply in the different groups in which you find yourself? What does that look like in practice? What do you run into?
Recently I had a conversation with someone who is active in ward community development. He asked me what these groups / social spaces would look like for the work in the neighborhoods. That question appealed to me. Because, of course, the diamond of discipleship is not only for churches, but you can apply it more widely. And, what is actually a Biblical definition of "church"? A ward community that reaches out with the love of Jesus, is that a church?
Talking along While talking we came across the following groups:
- the house - the 1-on-1 relationship
- the small group - the St.
- the missionary community - the neighbourhood
- the large group - the suburb
How can you apply this in your situation? Which words are relevant in your context and how can you give apply (together) following Jesus in the different social spaces in which you find yourself in your context? For example, what could this look like at work?