Nov 30, 2010

Upcoming Webinar

Centered Set: What Did We Get Ourselves Into?

Join us for a webinar on December 7
Reserve your webinar seat now at: CLICK HERE

It's a familiar concept for us in the Vineyard movement. It is supposed to describe how we function as a community. Have we fully considered the radical implications of this perspective, particularly now as we are more serious about really engaging with the communities in which we live, work and play?

• Are centered and bounded sets mutually exclusive?
• Is this just for "Baptists in transition" or for everyone?
• Why does this "feel" like compromise?

We will explore this together along with a panel of practitioners.

You can download the webinar later, even if you can't attend the live event, but only if you register now. (You will receive an email the day after the webinar with a link to download the file at your convenience).

Panelists: Gary Best and others tba
Title: Centered Set: What Did We Get Ourselves Into?
Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Time: 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM PT
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM MT
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM AT
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM GT
This message was sent by: Vineyard Resource Canada, PO Box 333, St. Stephen, NB E3L 1H8, Canada


  1. So, it looks like I just missed it! (Not that I should really be doing that during work time... :) ) So, I'll add my two cents here:

    While I was really drawn to the idea of centred sets when I first attended a Vineyard (and coming from a church where those who were "in" or "out" were all too clearly labled, and with discouraging criteria for membership), and while I do still respect the spirit behind it, the idea of belonging can be legitimizing. Being a "member" can give a greater sense of a community standing behind you. While people can have different degrees of affliliation (centered sets), the church should always be fully committed to all those who associate in any capacity (closed set). This doesn't mean always agreeing (in fact, it likely means being willing to correct when necessary), but it does mean the church has an allegiance to people that people aren't required to have for the church. The community has collective obligations that individuals do not. That's a self-less model, a service model, and one that favours people over organizations, one that gives without expectation, which seems entirely appropriate for church.

  2. I didn't make it either, but wanted to be able to download it after. So I should have it when it becomes available Christine.

    The notion of a center-set sociological model comes from sociologist and missiologist Paul Hiebert, who was around Fuller about the same time as Wimber IIRC. He was trying to describe the models by which we structure our communities. You are right that the problem with center-set comes in terms of rites of initiation and other traditional Christian means of belonging. But it should not be missed that center-set models capitalize on a shared sense of mission as a means of belonging. While this is not formalized (and resists being formalized) it is significant. And at the same time it provides a way for those with similar interests to be nurtured by the group, but with varying degrees of belonging.

    A great book that was my first introduction to this concept is called Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness by Jerry Cook. It has been a while, but he uses notions of church as a field and church as a force to describe bounded and center set models of church.

    Part of the issues you raise though come out of a growing sense of church as a collective rather than more individualistic understandings of church. These are good ideas to explore.


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