The realities of not being a top-down movement

by John Beem (WordAlone Network board member)

August 20, 2002

Among the growing pains of the Word Alone Network is the task of coming to a clear understanding of what not being a top-down movement means and how that is carried out.

Reality #1: There will be no large and expensive and coercive central office. Activities will not come down from on high.

Reality #2: Programs, activities, recruitment, education and support need to be generated locally by individuals, clusters and supporting congregations.

Reality #3: This does not mean that the WordAlone Board has no accountability. They also, as is true for all local groupings, provide leadership for the Network. This leadership primarily will be setting policy, subject to the approval of the annual convention. This will guard against the movement’s going off on an assortment of counter-productive tangents. The board must also respond to the needs of the grassroots that are national in nature, such as establishing a pension program and writing a newsletter.

Reality #4: The board will certainly suggest strategies to accomplish the common goals of the WordAlone Network, but such strategies need to emanate as well from the grassroots organizations and individuals and be implemented according to the wisdom of local leaders and the realities of the local context.

Reality #5: The board needs to be faithful in communicating as well as in encouraging communication among grassroots structures. Such communication, especially via channels other than the Internet, is very expensive. Careful attention to what is written must be given by all throughout the Network for repeated publication is not a luxury the Network can afford.

Conclusion: Adjusting our minds from a top-down mentality and dependency into our taking grassroots initiatives is difficult since the model most have lived by is top-down provision of resources and programming. Faithfully understanding and responding to the grassroots model is a high calling for all of us.