Monday, 3 March 2008

A place of Spaces: The Four Spaces of Belonging

So I've been reading this book'The Search to Belong' by Joseph Myers. Myers reckons that people connect in four different spaces

1) Public Space

2) Social Space

3) Personal Space

4) Intimate Space

each space has degrees of intimacy and we have important connections at all levels.

I took my eldest boy to see Arsenal play Aston Villa three weeks ago. We were with 60,000 other people and yet experienced great connection and a real sense of fulfillment (especially when we scored the equaliser with about 30 seconds to spare!). Recently I met up with someone who I share a significant degree of intimacy with - I felt better for spending an hour with him. We had another family round for a meal and spent a lovely afternoon just being together - social space. I met up with my leadership team last Tuesday and that felt like significant personal space.

Are any of these spaces more important than others? No. Belonging at SMC is going to have to avoid law-based approaches that say 'if you jump through these hoops then you are in' and we are going to need to seek to allow people to belong at different levels. But whilst we miss out or don't prioritise one of these spaces adequately we are going to disallow people from being part of the body of Christ.

I'd like to see SMC becoming 'a place of spaces' - we are pursuing a vision of being a community of communities - so our whole community gatherings are the public 'services', our gatherings as mid-sized mission communities are the social spaces, small groups are personal spaces and things like accountability groups, partnerships and prayer triplets are the places of intimacy.
But to be a place of spaces we need loads of flexibility and grace. Jesus didn't force people into relationship with him - but he did call them and so can we.

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