The Case for a Wiki
ON THE WAY TOGETHER – Journeying in Concert
Members of the congregation will be aware of the On The Way Together vision, which has identified four key missional areas for us to focus our energies upon. But how do we contribute? The mission groups are intended to NOT be mutually exclusive – everyone can contribute to each group, and indeed, the Church Council encourages every member of the congregation to become involved with at least one missional group. It is important to think of these groups as flexible, with engagement and involvement being fluid as people see opportunities for themselves in mission work through one or more groups. So these groups should NOT be seen as committees, either! They don't have a fixed membership. They are YOUR groups, for YOU to engage with as you feel moved by the Spirit. Consequently, the Church Council has been thinking about how to facilitate this model of involvement, so that everyone not only has the authority to engage with a group, but also the opportunity. We have two suggestions here. Notice that neither of them involve meetings!
The Suggestion Box
A Suggestion box has been placed on the Office counter. As the name implies, this is for people to suggest ideas on how the mission groups might discharge their missions. If you have a bright idea (and remember that the only dumb ideas are the ideas that are never discussed!), jot it down on a scrap of paper, or the back of the bulletin, or even the lolly wrappers that you unwrap during the sermon, and pop it into the suggestion box. It would help enormously if you are able to include your name and contact details, so that other mission groupers can discuss your idea with you, and formulate a plan!
The mission groups are YOUR groups, and we want YOUR ideas!
The new church wiki
You may have heard about the new church wiki. I used it in talking about the ministry plans at the congregation meeting on 30 Nov last. People have been reluctant to engage with it, partly because it is new, but I think mainly because many don't understand what it can offer. Below I discuss some reasons for why a wiki, but let me dispel a common misunderstanding. It is just a web page. Nothing more complicated than that. Those of us who have had access to the internet at some stage will have browsed a web page – and most of us know how dramatically the web has changed our modern lives! The wiki is just another web page – with a difference. YOU can influence its content!
A wiki page is a web page that has the ability to be edited by readers of the web page. That is, it is a web page that you can write to as well as read from. This is an immensely empowering tool, because, unlike email, your input to the mission groups becomes available in a far more enduring way than simply sending it to a static list of email addressees. We have set up a wiki page (well, several, actually) that talk about the On The Way Together mission visions. 'Talk' is the right word, because they are meant to be interactive. When you open the page, you will see one of the links on the page is the word 'Edit' – if you click on the link, you can edit the page. Don't worry about making a mistake. If you accidentally spoil something, the system saves every page, so we can easily go back to a previous version. I won't say anymore – here is not the best place. Best indeed is if you go and try it for yourself: http://wiki.gwuc.org.au/gwuc/
Why a Wiki?
To see why I'm keen to see the wider use of a wiki in our church, read this interesting article about some recent Wollogong University research (http://www.igi-global.com/marketingdept/newsletter/octnewsletter/journal.html). It is titled "Creating Successful Knowledge Management Systems Using Wikis", and discuss how wikis are useful to the corporate knowledge - all that stuff about the running of the church (in our case) that is locked up in peoples' heads, and seldom committed to paper. As the authors say, it is in the best interest for management to support the Wiki as a knowledge management system because the Wiki will be maintained by corporate knowledge workers, those who acquire and disseminate living knowledge.
One thing that I think constrains people NOT to undertake leadership roles in our church is their fear of what they don't know. As Acting Church Council Chair, I have been overwhelmed by the number of things happening in our church of which I was previously quite unaware. We are a big place - it is difficult for any one person to grasp all the nuances of things happening around the congregation. So what do we do? We "leave it to the experts", which is why the same 'usual suspects' bob up in the leadership roles around the church. I have far more faith in human nature than that - I think we can all take on leadership roles, and it is just the fear of the unknown that prevents us. Just as we have been exhorted to see ourselves each as “ministers” to each other (The Priesthood of all Believers is a central tenet of the protestant faiths), so too we are all leaders – each in our own areas of interest and expertise. This article suggest how using a wiki can get a handle on the "corporate knowledge" that lies behind a (relatively) large church organization like ours. By individually, and severally, engaging with the wiki, we can lead each other into a more comprehensive, more collective, understanding of the faith that binds us together. OnTheWayTogether.
Acting Chair, Church Council
Well that was back in 2009, and since then the wiki has grown to become ThePsalter with over 3000 pages linked within it! But has it been successful? On one level, yes. But in another respect, no.
Yes because it is now used extensively to record church goings on and happenings. Quite a few people (I won't say "many") have come to accept and affirm its use, and there are those who now say that we could not do without it. For that, I am deeply humbled and grateful. But ...
No because its use is still not widespread, nor thoroughly understood. It was always intended as a dynamic document, recording our journey as a pilgrim church in faith and action. But there are those who see it only as a static archive of committee meetings, proposals, and passing events.
The wiki is not an electronic version of committee minutes, typed up and filed away (although it can do that quite happily). It is not electronic paper. Its whole raison d'etre is to put into the hands of the congregation the ability to shine light into the darkness, to flesh out the stuffy formalism of church structures, to smooth out the lumpy bits in our faith and understandings, and to meet one another on the rocky road of Christian sacrament.
It can still do that, but we need to be tireless in our efforts.
JohnHurst, Nov 2017