Churches go to great lengths connecting to their member and visitors. This type of connection is no different from organizations connecting to their customers. After all aren’t church members and their visitors the ones that largely fund the church, just like when customers buy products from companies, the money made on the sale funds the company.
I would venture to say there’s a different kind of connection after reading Seth Godin blog entry. Go ahead and read his blog, I’ll wait for you to come back.
What would happen if churches built horizontal relationships instead of vertical ones? An example of horizontal relationships would be churches connecting unemployed people to open positions in the area or company owners in the congregation, connecting families with appropriate daycare facilities for their children in the community, or helping people find local contractors and other trades that give a fair price for their work. As Seth says the church would be the matchmaker.
Connecting people should come naturally to churches because they are trying to connect people into groups and other church functions. However, it appears churches are better at the vertical connections which mostly benefits the church, instead of the horizontal connections, where they don’t benefit but the two parties they bring together do. Does connecting people really happen, or as Seth points out, are organizations afraid of losing control? What would they be afraid of? A family leaving the church and going to another church, losing community sponsorships, or ministering in certain parts of the community. I have personally witnessed some of the territorial disputes among churches.
Should the church help connect people to others, even if it means losing a family? Yes. An organization should be seen as a helper in the community and on a personal level to the family, instead of a hindrance. It’s better for the organization to have the family speak good about it, then have ill feelings towards the organization that everyone finds out.
Let’s use an example to illustrate. A person is unemployed and resources ($$) are limited. When unemployment happens, most people stop giving to the church, or other charities. What would happen if they landed a job in which the church helped them find by connecting them with a known job opening? When they landed the job and started working again, what do you think will happen with their giving to the church, especially the one that helped them land the job? To take it a step further, even if they don’t donate anything to the church, isn’t the church in a better position in the community? They can at least have the satisfaction of helping a person and nothing negative can be said about them being a poor example of a community organization.
The cool thing about horizontal connections is it allows the church to facilitate the connection(s) but the people come along each other and help in whatever way they can. People learn from each other and more importantly form a sense of community and responsibility, something that’s greatly decreasing today. Yet another facet is that connecting horizontally is more of an emotional connection than the connection between people and the organization. People have this attachment between each other that they simply do not share with organizations. What’s powerful, is that when the connection is emotional, great things are accomplished because each person is invested in the goal(s).
Feel free to share below the ways that your organizational horizontally connects people so others can see examples of it and possibly implement them into their organization.