Over at the Daily Dish I saw this TED talk by Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh, about Mesh businesses:
Listening to the talk I was struck by the idea of peer-to-peer car sharing, allowing people to use my car when I'm not using it. It reminded me of my recent post regarding church giving, sharing and hospitality where I offered a few mesh-like ideas.
Here's what I'm now thinking. While my posts on church giving focused mostly on the giving, after having watched Gansky's video I'm starting to think that what churches really need isn't so much a revolution in giving as a revolution in sharing. Because when it comes down to it what was really distinctive about the early Christians was their sharing, their mesh:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.The phrase in Acts 4 that jumps out at me is "no one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but shared everything they had."
Here's why I think we need a sharing revolution at church. When we talk about our relationship to our material goods the word often used to describe that relationship is stewardship. And more often than not, when churches talk about stewardship, they mean one of two things. First, stewardship means staying out of debt and living within your means. Secondly, stewardship means taking care of your stuff. To be a good steward of, say, our church building is to take care of it.
But this is a very thin notion of stewardship. And I think sharing can help us get deeper into the mesh-like spirit of Acts 4. Specifically, sharing radically reconfigures notions of ownership. And that's the core issue with Christian stewardship. It's to be an inversion of what ownership means. This stuff isn't mine. And I don't think Sunday morning giving really gets at that dynamic the way sharing does, psychologically speaking.
In short, if we really want a church to examine how it relates to material goods we need to do more than give. Although that is a part of it all. We also need to help the church rethink ownership. And the best way to do that is to increase sharing within the church. To live the mesh.