Soul Cafe - What it is, how it works, and why we need it.
What is Soul Cafe?
Soul Cafe is an online community. It is an easy to use, sacred space on the web - an enablement tool that allows all of us to communicate and collaborate within an ever changing and critical time in the history of the Church. It is unlike anything that's ever been utilized by any denomination. Soul Cafe is a tool initiated primarily for congregational leadership, but open to anyone who wishes to interact, learn, and share in a relevant and respectful way.
How does it work?
You simply sign on, join the groups that might be relevant to you, and start interacting within the discussions therein. It is more than probable that your congregation, church affiliate organization, or ministry is experiencing the same pressing challenges, issues, and concerns as countless others around the Region and country. Soul Cafe works as a platform in which to share ideas and experiences around what is and what is not working.
How will it benefit us?
The leadership in our congregations, big and small, are facing many of the same problems in regard to declining membership, outreach, and next steps for those in transition. We cannot effectively tackle these daunting issues alone, and now we no longer have to.
In short, Soul Cafe is about enabling communication and collaboration within the Church in a way never before possible.
Soul Cafe is about facilitating mindshare. There is great wisdom in our numbers, and the experience and lessons learned therein: what is working, and what is not working within our congregations, ministries, and church affiliated organizations.
Soul Cafe is about breaking down “silos” of communication. These information “silos” exist in many forms. Whether it's a group of dedicated folks sitting together in a congregational meeting, or any one of the tens of thousands of disconnected web sites, online forums, or social network pages – these are all silos only benefiting those who are/where present, or have knowledge of what happened, or know where something might be found.
Online communities end up becoming an archive that can be mined and sourced to shed light and provide insight towards solutions to current and future challenges.
Accepting change and looking to the future.
The church is changing. Our challenges, issues, and problems are compounding and surfacing in new places and in new ways – some old, some recent and unique. Within the daunting reality of all the things we don't know, there are a few things most within the church do know: the world around us is changing, we can't keep doing things the way we've always done them, and we need a new and effective way of communicating with each other. We are in need of tools to help us with these very real, present, and sometimes daunting issues. With Soul Cafe, we step faithfully towards a transformative new tool in helping us to better be the church today and into the future. Soul Cafe is for those in congregational leadership who are all too aware that the same old way of doing things is not working, and who are looking for new input and a place to have a voice where others who are called will listen and respond.
There's nothing wrong with a congregational social network page being utilized by members of a particular congregation, what's important to understand is that Soul Cafe provides something entirely different and larger. No group or individual is ever disconnected within Soul Cafe, and all information (discussions, links, document, videos, pictures, etc.) is easily accessed and searchable by person, group, or category. Through this online community, for the first time we have one centralized place for all of us to come and share our ideas and experiences – on a large scale.
For most, Soul Cafe starts as a destination place that you come to because of a need. That is, you are someone called to offer your time and talents for the church and you (like most of us) have a need to find out what other folks are doing and saying with regard to stewardship, or outreach, or alternative ministries, or whatever. But it doesn't take long to realize that there's more going on. That individuals and groups of all kinds are utilizing the community as a go-to place for everything from confirmation class discussions, to current newsletter or calendar info, to brainstorming, to initiating meetings, community projects, and the list goes on.
Soul Cafe is what we make it. Join the groups that you feel are most relevant to what you are involved with. Jump into the discussions – if you don't find a discussion or group that is relevant to you, start it! Guaranteed, there's going to be others out there who share your concerns and enthusiasm. The more our online community snowballs and grows, the more folks will be there to talk to. The most successful online communities are those that grow organically by coming into their own and becoming what they need to be as determined by the unique group of individuals that populate the community and share a strong sense of ownership. Online communities work through scale – the more people who come, the more mindshare we'll have. Soul Cafe will grow in large part simply through your engaging the community, by starting or participating in the new and ongoing discussions that are relevant to you and those you serve with, and your encouraging others to come and share. It's up to all of us – it's up to you.
We have been called according to God's purpose and God will always enable his Church – and we are the Church. For the first time in our history, this incredible tool enables us to have unfettered access to our greatest resource: each other. Our online community is about finding solutions – together!
Come and be the Church - join Soul Cafe today!