Churches and Mission Agencies–Modalities and Sodalities (7th of 8 Illustrations)
Understanding the Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission.
There are two kinds of organizations. Modalities and Sodalities. A Modality is an entire congregation, or an entire freshman class at a high school, or the entire population of a city. The entirety of the city population or a freshman class or a congregation is a Modality.
A Christian congregation is a modality, but some members of a church join a mission association that is interesting to only a few of the entire congregation. We will call this mission association a sodality.
A synagogue is a congregation of Jewish members (a Modality). But Jews also organize special-interest groups. A Jewish special interest group is called a hevrah.
The entirety of a Christian church is a Modality. There is a sign in front of the building or on the church website, “Everyone Welcome!” But some of the members make a second commitment, for the love of God, to achieve a certain mission.
The Catholic church is a huge modality. But God moves on Catholics to organize special societies that the whole group are not interested in joining. Ralph D. Winter called this “the enviable Roman Catholic Synthesis.” The harmony between the modality and the sodality achieved by the Roman Church, Winter wrote, “continues to be Rome’s great organizational advantage to this day.”
Modalities are not just religious congregations: A high school freshman class is a modality. But the handful of freshman students who are interested in chess form a chess club, a sodality. Or consider the population of an entire city; the entire population is a modality. But the City Library Association is a small group of citizens who take turns reading to children after school. The City Library Association is a sodality. Thus, a modality is an entire group, such as a congregation or citizens of a city. Like-minded people organize themselves into smaller groups–sodalities–for a purpose that interests them. Dr. Ralph Winter coined this pair of words–modality and sodality–to help us understand “The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission.”
Here are links to all eight illustrations in this series: