Recently I heard a presentation about a local Enterprise Network. It was a forum for businesses in a deprived area of the city to come together to help and support each other, and at the same time jointly deliver community projects, creating jobs, skill-training and mentoring opportunities. Knowing the area in question I named several big companies who are based there and asked if they were part of this network. After a smile and a pause, the answer was along the lines of, er, not really. With a couple of exceptions the big outfits tend to not get involved and in some cases seem to have their own programme of community support. It was mostly small businesses who were involved in and benefitted from the network, and in turn brought benefit to the local community.
Some years ago I was involved in a network of local churches. The idea was to bring churches together to give mutual support and encouragement, enable good communication and sharing and create a basis to work together on particular projects or initiatives, so enabling growth of the Kingdom of God in the city. After all, as John says, it is when we love one another that people will KNOW who it is we follow. After a time I found that there was a tendency for the bigger churches to not get involved in joint programmes, or not to promote or attend meetings or events designed to encourage and support each other or mission and ministry across a wider area (or that, dare I say it, would take their members away from the home programme). On the whole it was the smaller churches that came and found them useful. I use “tendency” and “on the whole” as there were exceptions, but it seemed that those who were big enough to be self-sufficient, were just that and did their own thing.