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I just returned from training a church leadership team here in Miami. Tonight we were discussing the difference between communities and networks. We really differentiate between networks which tend to be large anonymous and encourage passivity in consumption and communities which are small and intimate, organic authentic and encourage reciprocity. Real communities actually require some sort of commitment and contribution. The most interesting part of our conversation tonight was talking about reciprocity in terms of church ministry.

Often times in churches doing outreach ministry the church sees themselves as The Giver and they don't look to the people they are ministering to reciprocate. However, our creator made us to be in a community which requires reciprocation. It does something to dull the human spirit when we condition people to not reciprocate, to be passive consumers always looking to extract value from an encounter instead of creating value. And we see the difference in people that have that mindset. But we all know deep down that was meant for reciprocity. 

A big misunderstanding about reciprocity that discourages some people is thinking that reciprocity is somehow the same as repaying our balance. We misunderstand the Golden Rule - Matthew 7:12 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Reciprocity is not giving someone something of the exact same value of what they have given you. And when we have that mindset we misunderstand reciprocity and the role it plays in communities. Reciprocity is simply finding a way to create value for someone that has created value for you.

If someone gives you a loaf of bread your act of reciprocity may simply be the thank you or lake with my neighbors one time they all gave me their bread and I made bread pudding trust me my bread pudding was much more valuable than their bread we all would agree to that period it tastes awesome! But the reciprocation is that I'm going to do something.

That creates value for you now. And while you may or may not be able to repay me right now I do trust that you will show me the same type of consideration or generosity at some point. 2nd Corinthians 8:14 says "at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need that there may be equality".

Tonight, when I described people who are passive and consumers, not reciprocating but always taking, relationships that are not mutually beneficial one gentleman said: "that used to be me". I asked him if he would end the night by sharing with us what changed him. He talked about how every relationship he had he was always looking to take in what he could get from it and never look to give a return. Then, one day, his mother sat him down told him to this could no longer continue I asked him what he did to change, was it hard? He said no.  "What did you do?" I asked. And he responded 1st I asked the Lord to change me I started recognizing that I couldn't truly live life this way and when I asked God to change me he did. He found he was more conscientious about reciprocating. course comments naturally and it really is that simple reciprocation just means being conscious.

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