Christianity, when it looks as God intended, looks like a movement. At its outset, it resembled a starfish – cut off an arm and a new one grows in its place. Only later when it acquired a pope did it become vulnerable. The movement was victimized by its own success.
The book The Starfish and the Spider explores the ability of headless organizations like A.A., Al Qaeda and Wikipedia to organize themselves and thrive. It’s a phenomenon that explains how the Apaches survived the white man while the Aztecs died off.
Starfish organizations are neutral networks, like the internet. Their magic is in their DNA, the shared values that bind them together. They are a decentralized, open system. You can’t kill them, which is why persecution always makes the true church stronger.
The movement wanes when the DNA is watered down, or control is centralized. Understanding this phenomenon helps us to see why discipleship is so important. Discipleship is the process whereby we pass on our DNA.
Water down discipleship to something as stale and academic as a Bible study, and disciples begin to start valuing their lives and the stuff in them more than Jesus intended.
Similarly, if we give a pastor or any one man too much control, we will wake up one day and find we are no longer structured for a movement.
When I was in Africa this summer visiting the World Race, God spoke to me while I was on a run. He said, “Structure this for a movement.” And that’s what we’re trying to do.