Starfish Infrastructure


John White had some interesting thoughts on my last blog about infrastructure.  I recommend reading them and the comments of others too. His comments referred to the book, The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom which compares types of organizations.  Most organizations that we grew up with were like spiders–sever a limb and the spider cannot regrow it.  Remove its head and the spider dies because it central nervous system is centered in its head. However, if one of the limbs of a starfish is severed, is not only able to regenerate the limb itself, but as long as part of the central ring of nervous system is included, it is able to grow a new starfish from the severed limb.

These days we are seeing more starfish type organizations–much of what is growing up around social media typifies this. 

The house/simple/organic movement, at least in the West, is more like a starfish.  There is no central organization that is keeping track of what is going on.  There is no superstar to follow or location to visit to see what is going on.  The Holy Spirit Himself seems to be in control.  One of the most common communications we receive at House2House is the person who says, "We started meeting in our house (or the local coffee shop or our workplace) because that was what the Lord told us to do.  We thought we were the only ones doing this until we came across your website.

That is not to say there is no leadership.  There is leadership, but for the most part it is relatively hidden and unseen.  Sure, some people may have national or even international influence, but they are there to serve the vision of others.  The Lk10 website which John White runs is a good example of this.  (See  There are training materials and courses available, books have been written and there are some great blogs.

I also recommend getting hold of Neil Cole's new book, Church 3.0.  Neil writes about the growth of a  movement from the perspective an insider and he has some great insights.  I read the manuscript some months ago and have been quoting it ever since. 

Infrastructure will enable the growth of a movement.  Tony and I definitely came away from India with the sense that we needed to think about infrastructure and to do what we could to help create more of it; hopefully the Lord will lead us clearly in this. Our sense is that this infrastructure will include training and follow-up from that training, the enabling of communication using all the technical advances that are transforming the way we talk to each other.  We are also aware we need to think more about resources, including finances, and how they enable growth within the Kingdom. 

Any more thoughts? 

4 replies on “Starfish Infrastructure”

I think we need to start building (infrastructure) locally. That is developing relationships with missional (and the key word is missional) organic churches within (let’s say) a 300 mile radius. Developing a vision for that area. As the Lord gives us growth, the infrastructure gets more local. Long distant conferencing I don’t believe is the answer. The questions on most blogs are so open ended that nothing specific gets answered. And books have their place but….. they do not help to answer local questions.
Another thing. I think its time we built an infrastructure of material that probes the deeper questions of the cost of love. The cost of being with people. The cost of praying. People come with problems and there is a cost involved in loving them. We need little booklets that delve more deeply into these issues.

Thanks for your comments about spider vs starfish! (And, of course, it’s not an either/or situation. Rather, I see a continuum from one to the other with various approaches somewhere along the line. Each of us needs to hear from the Lord for His specific directions on our part.)
Some months ago I read a book that moved me forward in my thinking about starfish infrastructure. It’s a business book by Gary Vaynerchuck called “Crush It”. The book helped me (an internet novice) understand the relationship between the various social platforms (websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) One of his key points is that your blog is “home base”. As a result, we started a blog called This is our place to collect and tell “stories from the revolution” and we now see it as more central than our website at It’s a starfish-like because its mostly the community teaching the community (ie, a community of practice).
You all might be particularly interested in this mornings post at “Stories”. It’s a one minute video showing air traffic flow around the world in a 24 hour period. It’s a powerful graphic picture of how the Gospel can spread virally and organically through relationships.
I would love to hear stories of others who are experimenting with starfish-like structures!

We are seeing several regional efforts take place. Interestingly, quite a number are being run by women. (I think they are perceived as being non-threatening–not trying to build their own empires.) But are there things that can be done at a national level that will facilitate these regional initiatives?

Neil Cole posted a great comment on Facebook in response to this blog. His comment to the question, what does a starfish infrastructure look like is “Self-building and self-replicating, internal and decentralized.” If we can apply these criteria to anything we produce, it will probably accomplish what the Lord seems to be saying to us.

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