Story

Grassroots: God’s Design for Redemption

And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  
This is the great and foremost commandment.  
The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40, The Word of God, NASB Translation.

Greetings! I’d like to introduce myself: I’m Kyle Zwiep, Director of Marketing and Operations for TheCommon.org. We’re a new start-up web-based ministry application, and that’s what I’d like to begin to tell you about. So, if you’re interested, curious-or even already bored- I ask you to keep reading, because the story gets better and bears, I believe with all my heart, great spiritual and social significance for everyone us who follow Christ, in today’s world. It’s that more personal, spiritual side that I’d really like to amplify, but I start with just a few details. Just hang in there with me.

Where to begin? Ah…yes, the beginning. Let me make clear, first of all, that I was not the originator of the idea for TheCommon.org. The idea was formed out of frustration, actually, by Rick, the president of our company. This first began a couple of years back. As he sat in church at Mars Hill (Grandville, MI), he was listening to what were, at the time, the church’s efforts to divide the city into quadrants to institute a “divide and conquer” strategy to reach the many needs of the community in which they’re situated. The means they planned to use to accomplish this were massive email lists that they’d use to send out needs on behalf of the community, to those whose email address were on those massive lists. Well, frankly, who wants their inbox inundated with hundreds of regular emails delineating hundreds of needs that one may or may not be suited or capable of meeting (you may be catching my assumption that this is a rhetorical question)? Difficulty one.

Difficulty two lay in the fact that it created massive time and management resource overhead for a community that needs anything but more of that. To make clear up what I’m saying here, allow me to give an example. Let’s assume one of these emails had been sent out containing 33 needs, within the community, and the first need was meal preparation for a single mother, who just lost her job. Thousands of people receive the email, see the first need, and let’s say 47 people respond (completely and totally arbitrary number selection). Well, from the first person who responds to the need, issues bloom aplenty. The first responder takes the need, which is terrific, but what about the other 46 people who responded? Now, the church needs to let all of those 46 people know that they’re willingness for this particular need is unnecessary. This causes, minimally, two problems. 1) The church has to spend more time and effort resources to let those 46 people know that they’re assistance is no longer needed for this particular project, but ‘stay tuned’ because next time you might be the ‘first caller.’ 2) The other those 46 people can become frustrated and may be less likely than ever to respond to a need (they may not either, but we are dealing with human nature here).

So, Rick, hearing this plan, began the process of thinking through how a community could more effectively connect needs with those who abilities to meet those needs. It needed to be simple, easy-to use, clear and rather time-efficient. So, he hatched the initial concept for TheCommon.org, and brought on a partner, Benjamin Gott, who has a very solid tech background as a programmer and supply chain analyst.

They worked for months on architecting a reliable, user-friendly system to connect people with needs with others who have abilities. Then, they brought me onboard, which has already been a huge honor. Currently, we’re in our biggest phase of development yet, which is just about to roll-out. We’re developing what we call the “Blended Communities” feature, which, as the name suggests, will allow any number of communities to share their needs and abilities with any other communities.

Now we’re talking a huge network, connected via the web, accomplishing real need eradication, in the real world. This is what just gets all of us totally geeked! I mean seriously passionate; we can all soap-box on this for hours!

Pretty simple, in concept. More difficult in development, and very theologically rich in spirit, and that’s the real meaning of TheCommon.org.

The name for TheCommon.org comes from Acts 2:44, where the early church (a grassroots movement) “…had all things in common…” This became the motivation of what would become TheCommon.org. All of us on the team here have two primary drives: To love God with all we have and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Not that come close to accomplishing that, at all times, but each of us (you readers, too) has glimmers. Packed into those two drives are thousands of implications. It means we desire to love and glorify God in our culture, by showing his love in real, practical ways. It means our hearts break for those who have needs. We are to “laugh with those who laugh and mourn with those who mourn”. It means we have to consider the ways we contribute to the problems of poverty, illness and oppression, by supporting the systems of leadership developed out of greed and selfishness–the depraved human nature.

It also means that we are optimists. “…Now these three remain: faith, hope and love…” We have hope for the redemption of the world, because of Christ. And, “…we have the mind of Christ”. Therefore, we truly believe that by small goodnesses and the ripples they send forth, the world can be redeemed. It starts with a single act of redemption, namely Christ’s, which is “…once for all…” And, it continues through what Christ called his “body”–the church–and spreads to the building of a kingdom. Jesus said, “…the kingdom of God is within you.”

So, it was God’s design that the world be redeemed through a series of grass-root movements. That being the case, we’ve taken this up as the philosophy of TheCommon.org.

Our dreams, desires and visions are: Love God with everything we have, and love our neighbours as ourselves. Our convictions dictate that we can help accomplish this through TheCommon.org. We desire to see new ‘partnerships’ formed with ministries, companies, organizations, schools and communities, all across the world. We dream of being found worthy servants by multiplying “talents” (awesome double-entendre) for our Lord. We desire to see the building of community, the meeting of the deep needs of this world with the hope of God, and a global network of people, who “Have all things in common.”

Kylw Zwiep .