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Open source software makes the basic program instructions available for anyone to see and edit. An "open source church," likewise, is one in which the basic functions of mission and ministry are open to anyone. Members feel free to pursue their callings from God that are consistent with what God has called the congregation to be and do. But what does "open source church" look like?
In Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All, Landon Whitsitt argues that Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can see and edit, might be the most instructive model available to help congregations develop leaders and structures that can meet the challenges presented by our changing world. Its success depends, he demonstrates, not on the views of select experts but on the collective wisdom of crowds.
Then, turning to the work of James Surowiecki in The Wisdom of Crowds, he explores the idea that the body of Christ itself—when it is intentionally diverse, encourages independence of thought, values decentralization, and effectively captures and aggregates the group’s collective wisdom—is an open source church.
Together, these phenomena show us what an "open source church" looks like. It is the body of Christ at its best.
Praise for the Book
"What we need today is churchly thinking for 'what’s next.' In this book, Whitsitt provides a vivid and compelling picture of 'what’s next.'"
—Michael Jinkins, President and professor of theology, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"Whitsitt translates the principles of open-source technology to imagine a new framework for fluid and faithful mission."
—Melissa Wiginton, Vice President for Education Beyond the Walls, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"Whitsitt envisions a church where openness and inclusion don’t just affect what happens at the front door, but become the cornerstone upon which the entire structure is built.”
—Eric Elnes, host, Darkwood Brew and author of The Phoenix Affirmations
"This is not a book about churches embracing new media and new technology. This is about our churches installing a whole new participatory operating system."
—Steve Knight, community architect for TransFORM Network and team member for the Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation
"Open Source Church is the most effective metaphor I’ve read in years for expressing the kinds of community that Jesus’ followers are called to create and to live."
—Philip Clayton, author of Transforming Christian Theology
Alban No. AL412
paper, 174 pages
($13.60 for members)