The concept of communities of practice was coined by Etienne Wenger in a 1996 article, and it articulates an important aspect of what a church should be.Wenger, E. “How We Learn. Communities of Practice. The Social Fabric of a Learning Organization.” Healthc. Forum J. 39.4 (1996): 20–26. See also Cultiviting Communities of Practice, 2002.
Communities of practice are also referred to as learning communities. An essential characteristic of these communities is learning socially through participation in the group. The community functions as a grouping of learning peers who all help one anotyher figure out what they are attempting to learn. While learning communities terminology emphasizes the co-learning aspect, communities of practice terminology connotes an active learning concept that would include learning through activiity or practice.
Both social learning and Experiential Learning are important concepts in a healthy church. Transformational Discipleship requires church community that embraces both of these concepts and is crucial for spiritual formation.
If the thesis holds, that humans learn primarily socially, then this demonstrates an important truth about the reason for church.
From the Knowledge Project
Adam Grant discusses this concept of communities of practice in the knowledge project podcast that he does.
Grant discusses this concept at the one hour and 5 minute Mark of the episode that he is in. Episode 22.