Rachel Botsman: Changing Trust

I just came across this fantastic TED talk below (seriously, I need to check TED more often – there’s always something good).

I can’t help but wonder about implications for the Church. It’s well-established that trust in the institutional Church has declined dramatically, as with other institutions. In some ways this breaking of trust is well-deserved when those institutions have failed to live up to the trust put into them. In other ways, there isn’t necessarily a fault involved – just an underlying revolution in how we decide who or what to trust that is affecting even the institutions that have not misused their power.

Is it a coincidence that there has been revised interest in Anabaptism, which tends toward bottom-up power structures like the Distributed Trust networks Rachel describes? Is it a coincidence that we are seeing revised interest in house churches with a similar framework? Is it a coincidence that there is a rise in the “spiritual but not religious” crowd, people who may like the ideas of Jesus or God but not want anything to do with religious institutions?

Whether or not this is ultimately better may be debatable, but it definitely can be an opportunity for the Church to refocus on what matters: Jesus, followed together in community. As Rachel explains, first you need to trust the idea (choosing to following Jesus), then you need to trust the platform (the idea of “church”), and then you need to trust the other users (particular members in your local church). A lot of churches in my experience seem to assume the first and second are true without ever talking about them, and don’t really get to the third because they see it as success as long as some people are still involved to some degree with the institution.

Sometimes using language like “going back to the basics” is seen as a bad thing, watering down the opportunity to dig deeper, but I think this is another good demonstration that we do often need to do that. We can’t just assume everybody has an understanding of discipleship, the role of the Church, and a few other key theological ideas. Without that discipleship to Jesus basis, we can’t trust the Church, which is not supposed to be just an institution but rather be the body of that same Jesus.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.