Where do you go when you need information fast? Like millions around the world, I go straight to Wikipedia, the world’s largest free online encyclopedia.
The “wiki” part of Wikipedia is from a Hawaiian word meaning “quick.” While it may seem as though Wikipedia has had quick success, it was actually a bit of an accident.
In 2000 Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started an online encyclopedia called Nupedia. The goal was for it to include contributions written only by experts. Before an article could be posted on Nupedia, it had to go through an extensive scholarly review process. That strategy proved to be painstakingly slow.
When Nupedia unplugged its servers in 2003, only 24 articles had been posted, and 74 were in the review process. There were not very many articles, but they were scholarly and professionally written!
In 2001, a year after Nupedia launched, Wales and Sanger started Wikipedia as a feeder system for Nupedia. The idea was to allow non-pros, non-scholars, and non-experts to write articles that the Nupedia scholars would review. The articles would then make their way through the extensive Nupedia approval process. By the end of 2001, volunteers had submitted more than 20,000 “wiki” articles.
It took the experts three years to create 24 articles and the non-experts one year to create 20,0000 articles. At the time of this writing, contributors from around the world had submitted more than 17 million Wikipedia articles, and according to an independent survey, most are as accurate as traditional encyclopedia entries written by recognized experts.
Unfortunately, many churches today function more like Nupedia than Wikipedia. They allow only credentialed professionals to lead evangelism and discipleship efforts while volunteers are expected to show up and pay up, but not engage in serious ministry.
Imagine if the situation were reversed. Imagine if every believer, not just paid leaders, were engaged in ministry. That’s a WikiChurch. That’s the Book of Acts. That’s what is behind Victory–Manila’s growth.
I love what Michael Scott, the fictional regional manager on the sitcom The Office, says about Wikipedia: “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone, in the world, can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”
Wikipedia may be an imperfect source, but it has made information widely available simply by empowering volunteers. That, I believe, is the call of the church—to empower imperfect people to spread the most important message around the world.
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