Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bounded Set versus Centred Set

I was watching one of Michael Frost's talks on a video last night. He talks about the differences betweeen centred set and bounded set, which I found very interesting.

He said, "in the bounded set, it is clear who is in and who is out (fences, not wells), based on a well-defined ideological-cultural boundary --usually moral and cultural codes as well as creedal definitions.. but it doesn't have much of a core definition beyond these boundaries. It is hard at the edges, soft at the center."

The centered set, on the other hand, "is like the Outback ranche with the wellspring at its center. It has very strong ideology at the center but no boundaries. It is hard at the center, soft at the edges. We suggest that in the centered set lies a real clue to the structuring of missional communities in the emerging culture.

"The traditional church makes it quite difficult for people to negotiate its maze of cultural, theological, and social barriers in order to get "in.".. and by the time newcomers have scaled the fences built around the church, they are so socialized as churchgoers that they are not likely to be able to maintain their connection with the social groupings they came from...

"We propose a better and more biblical way.. is to ... sink wells. If you sustain your connection with the water sources, you will find a whole host of people relating to Jesus from different walks of life. We allow people to come to Jesus from any direction and from any distance. The Person of Jesus stands.. at the center."

Frost's conclusion is this: cultivate hunger, and provide the right kind of food and people will continue to relate to the center.

I found this concept very meaningful. What do you think?


Tab said...

I reckon! Guesss it's a challenge to "controll" and that scary real of having not rules but intentions.

Kel said...

hey, I've been watching some DVDs from a recent Forge Intensive too. Debra Hirsch talked about similar things on one, and a few of Frost's I have yet to watch.

sinking wells sounds great when you hear them talk about it - and to my mind makes sense - but when one has spent a lifetime within the walls, its harder to put into everyday practice than I thought

my experience has been that when you move outside the walls, the very people you sink the well for, get confused, cos what you're doing doesn't fit their concept of what a "Christian" is

it's a challenge alright

Kitty Cheng said...

yes it is CERTAINLY a challenge, yet one that is worthy taking! And I find myself nowadays always being ambivalent (even torn) between the contexts of the bounded and the centred sets.