A Micro Mouse Approach to Building Community

The rodent not the pc accessory!

My conversation with a few friends over lunch today really exited me!

It seems we live in a “go large”, “live it large”, “bigger is better”, “big bang” world. At some level, we are all influenced by this mantra.

What if the opposite were true? Perhaps it’s the small things that have a big impact that have more potential for creating and sustaining change. I think someone called this the ‘micro mouse’ approach. If not, I call dibs!

The Church Mission Society was recognised by the Church of England as an acknowledged community in 2009.

Since then CMS have been trying to communicate what this means in practice, to our staff, members, mission partners and supporters but so far with only some success. Using the analogy of aeroplanes, one observer noticed that there was a big gap between the “leading edge” and the “trailing edge”. He was referring to the message of community and the lived reality of our members.

At the lunch table today, some of us were pondering why this might be, and what we can do about it.

As the conversation unfolded, it occurred to us that we may have been going about this the wrong way. We were thinking in terms of grand gestures. What is the big thing we can do? What’s the big programme? What’s the big event? What’s the big communication campaign? What’s the big publication? What’s the big (re)structure?

Perhaps what’s needed is precisely the opposite! We should be asking instead: “what are the small things we can do to help each other experience ourselves as community?”

We went round the table, asking each other this question; and, the suggestions started rolling in. I could not contain my excitement!

I was so enthused; I rushed up to my PC to write this blog. My excitement wasn’t so much for the idea of going small – but for the really interesting suggestions. I would like to capture these. So, please put your ideas as replies to this blog and let’s see how we can act on them together.

In relation to becoming a Mission Community… what are the small things we can do that can potentially have a big impact?

So far, we’ve got:

“Have meals together. Don’t label it as community, just eat together.”

“Have coasters or beer mats made up, with a simple message.”

“Give out community badges or fridge magnets.”

“Visit each other.”

“Set up a Facebook page to pray for each other”.

Join “We are saying yes” http://www.wearesayingyes.org/

8 thoughts on “A Micro Mouse Approach to Building Community

  1. Replying to my own blog sad, I know.

    When I got back to my desk, there was a bunch of flowers were sitting there, looking lovely. My wife was in hospital two weeks ago for a minor op. Tina who had been praying for her, bought the flowers for me to take home to her tonight! I’m glad I belong to this community.

    Heartfelt thanks to Tina for contributing to this blog in deed, rather than merely in words:

    Surprise people with unexpected acts of kindness.

  2. Community .. thought (prayer) word (kind words) deed (acts of service) – quality time.

    A bit like a marriage!! We need to be in relationship (communicate, spend time with one another and listen to one another) to find out our emotional language – what makes us feel valued, appreciated, included.

  3. little things can only hv impact when it is practised consistently as a lifelong relational habits… creates credible CHI (energy)

  4. When you want to communicate with colleagues – how do you do that? By email? By phone? By text? Or do you go and see them? My experience is that we learn much more about each other and understand each other better when we talk face to face. So, if you can, why not go and see someone you need to communicate with?

  5. I fancied sticking my oar in on this post from a technical perspective. I couldn’t agree more about Pat’s hierarchy of communications…

    “First is: Eye contact.
    Then its ears.
    The next is voice.
    Body language
    Last is EMAIL.”

    But we live in a world, where people work from remote locations, live fairly enclosed and travel frequently. Short of sorting out the above (unlikely in this day and age) you need to adopt some form of community online. The solution is not email. We all receive so much email, that (let’s face it) we either trash it or ignore it. So what are the alternatives?

    Maybe it’s a facebook group or something equivalent, or a corporate version of twitter like Yammer. Maybe it’s the website where you engage, or you completely revolutionise the way emails are done. The short of it is that your participents/supporters/customers/stakeholders need to be drawn into the community, rather than just communicated to.

    I think Churches are in the same place with regards the challenge of engaging community in the modern world. And I think I’ve left this blog post with more questions than answers.

    1. That is a really good point James. More thoughts on how to be global community via new technologies? I guess emoticons have helped but how do we convey feelings and replicate the human touch. FB has poke, and like. Is that enough? I guess until technology moves on further, we’re stuck with this when the relationship is at a distance.

      My point was more about being community when we are in the same physical location. I was so focussed on this I forgot about the relationship at a distance bit. So thanks to James for point this out. I trying to point out the folly of emailing in the office context, for eg, I knew of two people who sat opposite each other but only communicated through email though out the day!

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