Release the Saints


Have you ever heard of Nupedia? In 2000, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger believed they could revolutionize the way people access knowledge. Their idea was to develop a new online encyclopedia. Years ago, door-to-door salespersons tried to sell the Encyclopedia Britannica, a set of nicely printed volumes of the most up-to-date information on a wide variety of subjects. This series became one of the bestselling (but perhaps least read) of all time. Wales and Sanger’s idea was to gather knowledge by having the best and the brightest professors, historians, and researchers write articles and after careful editing, uploading the material to a website.

But after three years, they pulled the plug on the project. The work was incredibly tedious. And they constantly got stuck in the editing phase, locked in ideological conflicts. After three years of work, they had only been able to post twenty-four articles. In desperation, Wales and Sanger wondered if they could fix their problems by developing a feeder system for Nupedia. Instead of generating the articles themselves, they would enlist ordinary men and women who were passionate about a subject to voluntarily submit articles. This way, they didn’t have to pay or prod people because they would want to write the articles. By the end of the first year, Wales and Sanger had posted twenty thousand articles. That project has become known as Wikipedia. It now has over twenty million articles and is the most accessible encyclopedia on earth.

Sadly, many churches around the world operate like Nupedia. A few hired experts produce some results. But the work is tedious, slow, and will never achieve the intended goal. And the problem is obvious. Churches are not intended to work like a Nupedia. They are designed to work like Wikipedia. We must remove the bottleneck by restoring the priority of discipleship.

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This excerpt has been adapted from Conversion and Discipleship.

Image credit: Unsplash.