I just posted this at Leadership Network’s book blog, so please take a look.

So as you may or may not have noticed I have been on a reading spree with books that discuss new web 2.0 technologies and how they are influencing leadership, especially in the church (sidenote, this is the first book that I have read with my new Amazon Kindle; talk about new technologies are changing things).  The most recent book is Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.  The book is co-authored by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.  Charlene has a very popular blog and is considered one of the leading experts in social media and technologies, so I was very interested in reading what all the buzz has been about.

This is book is focused around the idea of the "groundswell":

Simply put, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use
technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of
from companies. If you’re in a company, this is a challenge.

This is not only an interesting challenge if you are a company, but an interesting challenge if you are a church, since people within the church no longer need to go through the leadership or hierarchy of the community to get things done. With new technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, wikis, blogs, etc, more and more people within churches are taking action and doing things on their own or with a group of people.  The days where the flow of information, content and decision making travel through the pastor and the leadership are coming to an end if they haven’t already.  With this in mind, Charlene and Josh use this book to teach companies three important things:

  • Part One: Understanding the Groundswell
  • Part Two: Tapping the Groundswell
  • Part Three: The Groundswell Transforms

As a leader in the church I think this book is a must read.  And even though they are talking more about companies, churches can easily be inserted.

There is a lot of great research and application in this book such as the categories that make up the people online which is important to know when you are determining what type of technological tool you are going to use to reach your audience.

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

Throughout this whole book one thing kept sticking in my mind and it was this statement by them throughout the book:

It’s important to understand these technologies, but the technologies are the detail, and it’s tempting to get sucked into the detail.  So many words have been written about blogs and blogging, social networks, and user-generated content that you might think that understanding those technologies will equip you for the new world.


First, the technologies change rapidly. And second, the technologies are not the point. The forces at work are.  Like the jujitsu master, you must understand how bodies move, not just learn a single block or throw.  You must develop a feel for the groundswell.

With that in mind, here’s the principle for mastering the groundswell: concentrate on relationships, not the technologies.

In the groundswell, relationships are everything.  The way people connect with each other–the community that is created–determines how the power shifts.

That last quote is brilliant.  Technology is great, but it’s not about the technology, but about the relationships.  How leadership is carried out in the church is embedded in relationships, and now with the use of new technologies many relationships are changing.  So do your church a favor and read up on how you can best capitalize on the shifting relationships and technologies that those around us are using.