Back when MMM began, one of the questions that launched some of the content had to do with the challenges of behavior and access to ideas we’ve placed towards institutions, structures, and methods. If you will, what is the role of the physical space that is church when the institution and the methods in that instutution are no longer primary to defining the behavior?
…The ability of service institutions to acquire clients has far outgrown the ability of individuals to be heard independently of institutional media, which respond to individuals only if they are salable news. Peer-matching facilities should be available for individuals who want to bring people together as easily as the village bell called the villagers to council. School buildings—of doubtful value for conversion to other uses—could often serve this purpose.
The school system, in fact, may soon face a problem which churches have faced before: what to do with surplus space emptied by the defection of the faithful. Schools are as difficult to sell as temples. One way to provide for their continued use would be to give over the space to people from the neighborhood. Each could state what he would do in the classroom and when—and a bulletin board would bring the available programs to the attention of the inquirers. Access to “class” would be free—or purchased with educational vouchers. The “teacher” could even be paid according to the number of pupils whom he could attract for any full two-hour period. I can imagine that very young leaders and great educators would be the two types most prominent in such a system. The same approach could be taken toward higher education. Students could be furnished with educational vouchers which entitle them for ten hours yearly private consultation with the teacher of their choice—and, for the rest of their learning, depend on the library, the peer-matching network, and apprenticeships…
While reading the article A Special Supplement: Education Without School: How It Can Be Done (Ivan Illich, 1971) at The NY Review of Books, that thought came back to mind. If for no other reason but that if mobile and web technology are the change agents we are noticiing them to be, do we keep the structures of faith that are familiar (but not necessarly all that old – ever consider how long its been that we’ve had personal Bibles, let alone collective literacy)? Or, do we explore what the technologies offer, what our behaviors instigate, and what we might have been provoked to do for a long time now (John 4:20-26).