An “open source” church

Kristy Harding imagines sees the word “ubuntu” and imagines what an “open source” church might look like.

She writes on the blog ReEmergent Church:


Anyone who wants to can get at the church.

Harding differentiates accessibility from the myriad of means and groups in which people can be involved. Instead she says that “Anyone who wants to can have access to theology and spirituality.”

An open source church would do all it could to make sure as much of the riches of its traditions were as available as possible in places like Project Gutenberg and Google Books–and even, God forbid, mundane places like public libraries.

In addition to old theology, new theology, education and formation would all be accessible.

She concludes with this idea: We need fewer Cathedrals and more Bazaars.

We would have more bazaars and fewer cathedrals–in the sense of Eric Steven Raymond’s essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar. “Cathedrals” are huge projects that involve enormous amounts of work to pull off. “Bazaars,” interestingly, are also huge projects that involve enormous amounts of work to pull off. The difference between a cathedral and a bazaar is that building a cathedral is centralized endeavor, highly-closed from public view, structured, and takes forever. Bazaars are the work of zillions of people, are a highly transparent affair, and are chaotic. But! They happen for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon and can disappear into the sunset cleanly. When something goes wrong in a cathedral, the cathedral collapses, and the entire town falls down with it. If a fire breaks out in a bazaar, it might tear through a section of the bazaar, but bazaars are like organisms: They’re flexible, and they can heal themselves quickly. By working under the bazaar model, the open source church would be truly open and listening to the experiences of its members, and problems wouldn’t get so big that they threatened to bring the entire building down.

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