Round Table Groups (RTGs) within our Christian social network, Upadaria (yoo-pah-daria), will be the first "official" groups within the community. All members wil be given the option of joining the RTG that covers their area where they live.
RTG's, as they will be called, are loosely based on the idea of a multi-family extended household. A multi-family extended household was, back in the 1st century (when it was called the "oikos"), a group of nuclear families, all under a parton or a matron, who essentially took direct responsibility for one another. These "households" could include 100 adults and might be divided into smaller groups of people, centered on a mother and father and their children with any attached single adults.
The Round Table Group (RTG) represents a sort of spiritual subdivision of an ancient "oikos", it would include only around 10-20 adults, but it would, in that same spirit of spiritual kinship, seek to care for its members' spiritual, emotional, and other neeeds, as much as can be expected of a virtual household. Later we'll get into a virtual to local RTG, and users will find RTG based on where they live: eventually the goal is for virtual RTG's to subdivide and for members to get closer and closer until a virtual RTG can even conduct local gatherings or plan and execute a local outreach to the lost.
One core idea of Upadaria (yoo-pah-daria) is our call to be witnesses and ambassadors to the nations. Through RTG's users learn what that means and they are not only empowered as an individual to live that out but as a group they can come together and be a corporate body of people witnessing to their nation.
A second core idea of Upadaria, as a Christian missionary community, is that "it takes a nation to reach the nations." Here the plan is twofold: to wake ourselves and our fellow Christians up to the truth that all Christians belong to the eternal nation of Christendom, or the Kingdom of God (whatever is under Christ's domain), and to model a sort of "virtual" (and stateless) Christian nation (the "nation" of Upadaria as a Christian social network) that provides a platform and resources to empower Christians to reach the nations. The second part of this is necessary for many reasons, but on a practical level, we become better at understanding the dynamics of nations and how to reach and make disciples of people within the nations through modelling a specific "nation" among ourselves. So our entire Christian social network has this THEME interwoven into it as a way of focusing the mind and heart on the mission: to become effective witnesses for Jesus to the nations.
Round Table Groups will allow you to learn, explore, and establish virtual "household like" fellowship groups that connect Christians and empower them to live out their role as ambassadors. On a practical level, most news and updates will go through RTG's, issues of governance and moderation will first be submitted to them, and any questions about how to use the features of this platform will go through them. Weekly virtual gatherings, for instance a Bible Discovery gathering or even a special Celebratory Gathering or Communion even, would happen in these groups.
The groups will be officially sanctioned and will need to meet certain standards, but you, the members, will essentialy run them with the support of the Community Governance Team (CGT). Initially, they may be run by a CGT member but eventually all such groups will be run by YOU and your fellow members. Unlike Facebook or Twitter or other social. Networks, Upadaria really will be "people powered" among its Christian members (as it is a Christian social network.)
While we will have some basic governance and structural ideas, we hope and expect you will participate in refining and challenging those ideas until a common standard can be discovered, together, that would be profitable to everyone. For starters, RTG's will somewhat model their Greco-Roman counterparts, albeit in modern form, and with full knowledge that things can and will change.
So the provisional structure will be:
RTG Patrons- two or three members approved by the site admin, who go through a background and reference check, who lead the RTG, managing moderation, administration, and peacemaking/keeping functions.
RTG Chaplain- this person would be in charge of spiritual needs, discipleship, and officiating at virtual gatherings, although some RTG's might make this a rotating position.
RTG Steward- basically, for the virtual RTG, the Steward runs the group page and forums and keeps things functioning and neat, for a local RTG they would handle upkeep and provisions for group logistics, like setting up locations for gatherings or such things.
RTG Guardian- this person keeps order within the RTG, approves and screens new members, and handles any concerns over privacy and online safety and security. In a local RTG the Guardian is like a "Master At Arms." Community Guides, who moderate the site, would be chosen from RTG Guardians.
Other functional leaders could include an RTG Ambassador in charge of evangelism and external relations with other groups, an RTG Scribe who keeps official records and also curates news/information for the group, and any number of other functional leaders. In a 20 member RTG, for instance, as many as half of the members might be functional leaders in some area of expertise, but ALL would be followers of Jesus and of one another. An RTG is the least hierarchical entity envisioned within this community.
RTG's will "grow through cellular division" from one, our first RTG, to smaller and smaller regional RTG's. Every time one reaches 30 members it will subdivide into 3 groups, assigning membership by location. So, obviously, a hierarchy of structures for larger scale interaction, cooperation, standards-making, and governance will be needed. For that, we will rely on a "fictive future history", written in 1982, but adaptable to the living reality of a virtual social network instead of a physical nation-state.
You, however, can simply be part of an RTG and not worry about the whole "ficitive future history" aspect which is simulated, for both educational and entertainment purposes, above the level of RTG's. RTG's are geocrentric, in other words you are assigned to them based on your location, and when they grow to 30 members, they subdivide, again by geography. Eventually, as the community grows, your RTG will mostly include members who live near you, so going to an RTG Gathering will be convenient, if you choose to attend.
There are five revolutionary aspects of our Christian social network that mark it as a unique experiment:
Self empowerment- we want to recapture the ethic and discipline of a Christian community, formed around interdependent households of faith, that cared for its own so well that they could prosper and thrive even in crisis while still performing their duty as ambassadors for Jesus.
Evngelism- the "empowerment" we seek is to convert sinners into saints through preaching the Gospel and making disciples: this is a community for Christians who want to be part of reaching and converting the lost to Jesus! We don't want your donations (this platform is owned by a private company and not a charity), we want to empower you to personally, and with the help of others, lead others to Christ.
Nation envisioning- we envision the nations as God does, and we desire to reach them, we do this by modeling a temporal virtual Christian nation, by modelling the true meaning of our universal Christian nation, and by reaching people within the nations of this world in a deliberate manner.
Virtual to local gathering- the aim is to connect people virtually to Christians all over the world for collaboration and fellowship, but to also to create local connections that include face to face fellowship and on the ground evangelism and discipleship powered by average Christians.
Open architecture- the community may contain organizations, even a Society which also goes by the name of Upadaria, but it is open for everyone's use, it is not a closed silo or its own "organization"- you can be part of our social network and promote your own thing and adapt our ideas, with our help and support, to enhance your own vision from God.
You can join or form any other groups you wish and you don't have to be part of an RTG, but to truly experience everything this Christian social network can be, we strongly urge you to consider joining an RTG.
When we begin allowing users to participate in community governance, only members of an RTG will be able to participate because the governance decision-making process will be carried out within and through these groups.