Thy Kingdom Connected by Dwight Friesen

January 31, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. – Frederick Buechner

Synopsis: The tagline to this complex book is, “What the Church can learn from Facebook, the Internet, and other networks.” Having that subtitle in mind, this book was entirely different than expected. It is about networks, but hardly mentions Facebook and the like. Because it veers off in so many directions, I’m having a difficult time creating a succinct summary. So, I’ll steal the summary from the site where this book was made available for review. Here it is:

Networks: They’re everywhere. From our roads to our relationships, from our food supply to our power grids, networks are an integral part of how we live. Similarly, our churches, denominations, and even the kingdom of God are networks. Knowing how networks function and how to work with rather than against them has enormous implications for how to live lives of faithful and life-filled ministry. In Thy Kingdom Connected, Dwight Friesen brings the complex theories of networking to church leaders in easy-to-understand, practical ways. Rather than bemoaning the modern disintegration of things like authority and structure, Friesen inspires hope for a more connective vision of life with God. He shows those involved in lives of ministry how they can optimize already existing connections between people in order to share the Good News, embed people more deeply in the lives of their faith communities, and grow together as apprentices of Jesus.

If that still isn’t clear, the back of the book continues:

Friesen inspires hope for a more connective vision of life with God and shows how to maximize already existing connections between people in order to spread the gospel, get people plugged in at your church, and grow together as disciplines.

The five sections are:

  • Seeing Connectively
  • God’s Networked Kingdom
  • Leading that Connects
  • Networked Church
  • Connective Practices

This is an explicitly Christian book and is especially suited for Christian leaders. Each chapter ends with references to other books for further exploration and questions for personal or small group discussion. The book is a part of the Emergent Village resources for communities of faith series published by Baker Books.

Review: This book is under 200 pages, but has a density unlike any other book I’ve read lately and is by no means a quick read. I can’t quite agree with the statement in the summary that complex theories are broken down in easy-to-understand ways as this book requires a good deal of mental effort to stay engaged and reminds me of at least a college-level book. However, the reward for staying focused is that Friesen offers all kinds of meat to chew on.

The book gives vision and clarity to a radical shift from the individualistic nature of western culture. Each man’s choices have a far-reaching impact to bless or to curse and to build-up or tear down. Because we are so inter-connected, our choices matter. In light of the systemic nature of things and relational focus of the Bible, it is a worthwhile pursuit to learn how to best channel and utilize the power of networks for good.

Positives: I particularly enjoyed the discussion on relating to others with a goal of giving of oneself rather than only to use and take. I also enjoyed the focus on spreading rather than hoarding power and the “parable of Google” regarding the example of how Google links us to what we seek rather than being an end in itself. The chapters on leadership were compelling and there is a solid stress on looking at the big picture and cooperating with “competing” ministries. Finally, the networking theory as it relates to form and function and chaos and order was very intriguing.

Negatives: Apart from being thrown off by the subtitle, this book is not the most aesthetically pleasing. The cover is ugly, the line spacing is tight and the illustrations are busy and not always clear. Also, I feel like this book could have been better organized and set out a clearer road map as to where it would go and what it would aim to accomplish.

Summary: The author has clearly done his homework. This book is jam-packed with information, theory, guidance and challenging insights regarding connection and community.

Rating: 4/5 (A messy drink from a systems theory fire hose.)

To learn more about or purchase on Amazon, click here. You might also want to check out the author’s personal website.

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Category: Reviews

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