A Brief Review of
Thy Kingdom Connected:
What the Church Can Learn From Facebook,
The Internet and Other Networks.
Paperback: Baker, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
For the last several years, social networks have been all the rage. The number of users on networks like Facebook and Twitter rises exponentially each year, and newer, more specific social networks emerge every day. It comes as little surprise then, that someone would eventually explore the topic of what the church can learn from these social networks, as Dwight Friesen has done in his new book Thy Kingdom Connected. Given the trendiness of social networking, however, what does come as a delightful surprise is the depth and acumen with which Friesen addresses this topic; despite the overwhelming relevance of social networks, this is not an opportunistic book. No, indeed Thy Kingdom Connected is a rich exploration of post-modern ecclesiology that happens to illustrate key points with examples from contemporary science, network theory and familiar social networks. The key theme for Friesen here is demonstrating the inter-connectedness of God and creation, and there is plenty that we can learn from network theory as a metaphor for our inter-connectedness with God, each other and all creation.
The highlight of the book, for me, was the section on leadership, and this came as a surprise because I typically think the deluge of writings on leadership in recent years is overrated. It was refreshing to hear of Friesen’s own struggles with the terminology of “leadership,” followed by his depiction of a non-hierarchical, connected vision of leadership. He says:
Leading connectively busts the myth of control and proactively dethrones hierarchies, daringly linking people and organizations with God’s vision of the connective kingdom and surrendering their personal vision for ministry. In more hierarchical models of organizations, knowledge and connections were seen as power and the person with the most was in control. Knowledge and connections were therefore often held tightly by the leader. But leading connectively invites a redefinition of power. Power is very important in living networks, but it is not hoarded; it flows as a relational lubricant (100).
Thy Kingdom Connected is a superb reflection on the interconnectedness of creation and our call as followers of Christ to a mission of connection. I look forward to re-reading and continuing to reflect on its wisdom!