Monday, September 10, 2012

Contrasting Church 2.0 and Church 3.0

                                                 Church 2.0                                      Church 3.0

Seating when gathered              Rows                                              Circles
Environment                             Anonymous                                    Intimate
Leadership source                     Institutions of higher learning         local context and people
Growth                                      Addition                                         Multiplication
Results                                       An audience is attracted                 A spiritual movement
Ministry practitioners                 The ordained                                  The ordinary
Resources                                   Imported to the community           Discovered in the community
Primary leadership role             Pastoral teacher                               APEST team
Learning lab                              Classroom-based education            Trench-based education
Cost                                           Expensive                                       Inexpensive
Ministry setting                          The meeting place                          The marketplace
Success                                      Full seating capacity                       Full sending capacity
Church posture                          Passive: "Y'all come!"                    Active: "We all go!"
Attraction                                  Felt need programming                   Obvious life transformation
Model of church life                  Academic                                       Family

This is adapted from Neal Cole's Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church. I've changed just a bit of the language to fit my ecumenical context a bit.

I find myself ready to make this upgrade, while holding dear, and clinging hard, to aspects of the current operating system.

I make my living doing 2.0. My passion is in discovering life in 3.0. So I consider myself, and many in my community, in that uncomfortable beta stage between systems.

And I find this list from Neil Cole immensely helpful.


  1. the only thing I'm a little wary of is the "family" language. Perhaps it works because everything else is de-centered. When it isn't, family language often becomes exclusive, and we only welcome people who are "like us."

    I agree that intimacy is attractive, but when everyone at the church is already intimate, it's hard for a new person to be integrated.

    but in a more de-centered church, perhaps that doesn't happen. because we are not inviting in, but going out.

  2. I just had dinner with a young Lutheran musician from the Twin Cities and he expressed dislike of the use of the word "family." He felt it could be exclusionary for some, especially for those from estranged and broken families.

    I wonder if "embodied" might be another way to describe a model of church life. Beyond drawing from Paul and the church as the Body of Christ, for me there is a sense of action, movement, and wholeness.

    This list of movement from 2.0-3.0 reminds me of Alan Hirsch's "The Forgotten Ways." A return to the practices and patterns of the early church. So in some ways, it seems, 3.0 is 1.0 revisited.

    And of course, this transition is more than sitting in circles as opposed to rows. I assume the point of that "transition" about where the is focus of our worship (on one or two people speaking and the congregation receiving) with a sense of deconstruction of hierarchy. There are probably ways to do this in rows. :-)

    To call this beta stage "uncomfortable" is an understatement.

  3. Sitting in circles.

    I don't know if my comment will be helpful or not, but whatever, here it is. I'm a "Lutheran/Catholic" who has lived in the Archdiocese of Miami for going on 40 years. Back in the old days, we had an Archbishop who ruled that ALL new churches must be built "in the round." Needless to say, this mandate was implemented.

    Here is the result: Almost everyone wants to go back to the old cruciform church. Why? Because "in the round" we end up looking at each other: the wonderful "Gathered Assembly." Well, what's wrong with that? you ask.

    Most people -- most grown-ups that is -- come to church to worship God -- not each other.

  4. Although almost every cruciform church I've been in includes a space where the choir or worship leaders sit and face each other. Especially true in monastic worship spaces.

  5. Oh well. Go ahead. Give it a try. Is this the Emerging Church?

  6. I wouldn't know. But I do learn a lot from Neil Cole, and I recommend his book.

  7. Anonymous7:34 AM

    When you are in a circle and prayerful, or in worship, or meditating with others, or ..., the object of your worship is in the center of the circle, and you are all equally engaged with that focus !!!and with each other!!! which is the point. At least you have the opportunity for engaging each other with the central focus present to everyone (visible or in). I think I could fully breathe in church 3.0. We have a nice practice at the very small Episcopal church in Oroville WA. We sing a song/a blessing to each other at the end of the service and everyone turns and looks at each other and sings to each other. You can do this in the pews and see everyone. Lovely and very engaging and very difficult for many of us (to really be seen and be willing to be seen can be daunting!), which may be a good thing. Looking forward to seeing the church styles evolve a bit.


  8. It is also true that most visions of the heavenly space for worship have the whole heavenly host worshipping in the round. Think Dante or the visions.

  9. Ah, yes, religion. Last night I watched "The Craft" -- witches love circles! It's fun to experiment, but without Authority in the Church, things do tend to fall apart....

  10. God loves circles. And in a circle, the center is the authority, which is the throne and the lamb (Revelation 22).

  11. Wow, this is getting so mystical. You sound like Teresa of Avila or John of the Cross! It's a little too much for me -- I'm just an old, down-to-earth Lutheran square.

  12. Does the order of seating matter that much--
    It depends on what you are doing as a group. There are times for circles and times to focus on the center.

    Circles make sense in team meetings, times of prayer, and in bible studies. If everyone is as a member of the group sharing with the others the circle is the way to go.

    In a classroom with all needing to see and connect with the same information being presented the half circle works well. The circle will almost work but if there's still a need if a teacher is presenting information before leading a conversation there does need to be a central point of focus.

    Cruciform or semi circles make the most sense in worship just the same. Preaching at least for me, requires eye contact and engagement. I can turn to see the choir beside me and know when they are following, but in a circle that doesn't happen--but it a semi circle or cruciform space it can.

    thanks, John

  13. Thank God for some common sense! I have worshiped for many years in both cruciform and semi-circle churches. Personally, I like cruciform because it is more of an altar-focused, just-God-and-me arrangement, but semi-circle is fine. I just don't like to look at my dentist while I am praying.

    For what it's worth, I'll pick up on Janet's word "evolve." Like a lot of people, I follow all the latest info on "where we came from." Darn, they just can't prove that we "evolved" from monkeys -- just discovered a new species of monkey the other day, but no "missing link." Just could be that we were in fact "created" in God's image at one time or another.

    Same with the Church. Catholics do not believe the Church "evolves" exactly -- we think it grows, organically, like a body -- the Body of Christ.

    I'm sure Neil Cole has a lot of good ideas, but if the Fundamentals are messed up, just changing the form or "system" won't make the church grow.

  14. Mark S.11:30 AM

    I think contrasting these two ideas of church would be a more enlightening exercise if the first list weren't so disingenuous (e.g., I don't think anyone *actually* confuses a congregation with an "audience"). No real comparison can be made when the two things being compared are understood with reference to a particular polemic rather than understood on their own terms. What comparison is there between, "awful stuff no one could possibly want anymore" and "great new stuff that everyone loves"?

    That having been said, this is how I experience the list:

    Seating: are we willing to abrogate the ancient symbolism of facing the rising sun when we worship because sitting in a circle makes us feel good?
    Environment: I wasn't aware that "Church 2.0" was geared toward anonymity to begin with.
    Leadership: Why not both?
    Growth: Addition and multiplication are different words, but the substance of both is enlargement and expansion. So what's the real difference?
    Results: like the items under environment, these are disingenuous.
    Ministry practitioners: Why not both?
    Resources: Why not both?
    Primary leadership role: Is it so inappropriate for a team to have a leader?
    Learning: Why not both?
    Cost: Disingenuous
    Ministry setting: Are our Christian traditions and theological heritage just another bunch of ideas adrift in the marketplace of ideas?
    Success: Why not both?
    Posture: Why not both?
    Attraction: Why not both?
    Model: Why not both?

    It seems to me there are a lot of false dichotomies and distinctions being made which, again, points to the fundamental disingenuousness of the exercise.

    (Also, I'd love to see what Church 1.0 looks like....)


  15. Me too. I know this is none of my business. Sorry. Ya know what I think? I think Church 1.0 just might be the church of the creed (N.B. lower case) -- the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

    Kathy S.

  16. Hi Clint,
    I am wondering where what we are doing in virtual worlds like Second Life fits in. Sounds 3.0 to me!

  17. I agree, Cao. One interesting thing about Second Life is that since it is a "second" life, churches there can actually be like church 2.0 or 3.0 in SL, depending on their approach. I've visited both kinds of congregations in SL.

  18. We bring ourselves in to virtual worlds, and in many ways replicate what we experience in the non-virtual world. One thing that has surprised me in Second Life is that even there we are still physical people and need places to identify with.

    One of the benefits of a venue like Second Life is that the investment in infrastructure is so much lower, so if we don't like the way the seating is arranged, a few mouse clicks, and we have a whole new setting. A lot easier than tearing out walls in a non-virtual world church building.