Systems Are Systems, Friendship Is Friendship

time for a pivot? 

One often hears about the freelancer and the small business as an efficient [and meaningful] way to move an entrepreneurial endeavor forward. We hear of the local “mom and pop shop” and we immediately have a sense of what that business is like — warm, friendly, relational… and perhaps even a little messy or quaint. While there are definite challenges to the concept, there are advantages to the smaller over biggerphilosophy as well.

Would the way that we relate as the Church be similar? Could it be that we’ve placed to much pressure on bigger is better?

While there is a role for the large organization within the greater Church to play, at what cost have we deemed it normative?

movement toward authenticity

In many of my conversations on the topic of togetherness among Jesus followers, similar themes come to mind. I just don’t feel as connected. Or maybe, my relationships in this community aren’t as deep as they once were. Or even, I stopped going to my small group —or local church community— because it just no longer feels authentic. There’s a simple reason for this sentiment. It’s because it’s true. Large organization [even small organizational systems, come to think of it] will never replace deep, rich relationship. And having a group of relationships handed to us through a system or structure [and the expectations that come along with that] is not a successful strategy for togetherness, neither for the individual or for the organization.

organization, setting the table

Hear me in this. I am not communicating that there is no place for an organization to offer systematic opportunities for humans to relate to one another. I’m simply saying that in and of itself, an organization creating a system is not the same as the personal cost [human to human] of fostering deep, long-lasting relationship.

All an organization has the magical power to do is to notify an individual [or group of individuals] that there may be other humans in this specific place at this specific time. AND if the organization is ultra on top of things, they may even be able to tell you that the humans gathering could have common interests to yours as well [double bonus day].

now, on to responsibility

Why is this important to realize? This is important to understand, because it is up to the individual [not a group, organization, system, or brand] to foster depth and authenticity in relationship. This has always —in the history of the whole wide world— been the case.

Togetherness is inconvenient. Connection is messy. Relationship is hard. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. Busyness is difficult to overcome. But it is such a worthwhile way to live our lives. We desperately need one another. We desire to know and to be known by others. Our life on the earth was never meant to be journeyed in isolation. But let’s not abdicate the fostering of togetherness. It’s no one else’s responsibility but our own. And I know we can do it.

Resonate and wanna join the conversation? Come on then! I [Phil Rice] would love to hear from you. And know you’re welcome to reach out with any thoughts or questions sparked by previous moments in our convo.


Phil writes like he speaks – with a God-centered, challenging, winsome humility. He gives permission to reflect on the edge about what it means to be the Church. — Lance H.