Co-Mission: The Starfish and the Digital Platform

I recently finished reading The Starfish and the Spirit by Lance Ford, Rob Wegner, and Alan Hirsch.  There are many great ideas within that book but the one that comes to mind most often is central to the overall message of the book – every initiative within a true Kingdom organization should carry the key elements (or DNA) of the entire organization.  The name of the book is derived from a starfish which can regenerate a new leg if one is cut off from the main body.

Using this imagery, even though it is only one initiative of Winebrenner Seminary, the Co-Mission digital platform should carry the key elements of the entire organization.  So, in this post I’m exploring our mission and strategy in relation to this specific initiative.

Beginning with mission, Winebrenner exists to equip leaders for service in God’s Kingdom. The strapline for the effort is “reframing conversations about discipleship and theological education in the Church and Academy.”  Every person who encounters Co-Mission, whether as a viewer, content creator, or organizational partner must prioritize the goal of discipleship and theological education.  There are many other digital platforms that accomplish many other things but this one exists for a very focused and specific purpose.

Within the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan there are three strategic priorities: Collaborative Relationships, Contextual Education, and Community of LearnersLast week’s post highlights collaboration, so I will focus on the other two here.

When we think about Contextual Education, we can envision the platform serving viewers and creators in multiple contexts including seminaries and universities, local churches, denominations and regions, faith-based organizations, and individuals who are seeking to grow in their own faith walk.

Finally, the site is designed to promote and support the creation of communities of learners.  I spoke with a pastor last week who is currently serving in a leadership role in his denominational region.  He has interest in how this digital platform can serve the discipleship and leadership training needs of his region.  This is just one example of how a group of creators and viewers from a common organization can benefit from the site.

The idea of a starfish organization challenges some inherited understandings of organizations – it’s not just the totality of the organization that carries each aspect of its DNA.  Each individual initiative or project should be an expression of the fullness of the organization.

While the Co-Mission site is not branded as Winebrenner, the organizational DNA will be experienced by anyone who engages the site.  One way we can evaluate the strength of the platform is whether or not it carries the fullness of Winebrenner within it’s structure and design.

– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President