Posted by: rogermitchell | March 9, 2010

Aspects of kenarchy

Kenarchy is a composite of the Greek word kenō to empty and the Greek word arkhō to rule. It brings together kenosis and rulership in a way that I am deliberately developing from a particular understanding of kenosis and authority that draws on their use by Paul in Philippians 2 to describe the way Jesus emptied himself [kenoō heautou] and the way that this resulted in him being given the highest position of rulership in the cosmos. It basically turns rulership and all political relationships upside down by making the lowest place the highest place and the exercise of power as the emptying of it out. I am aware that if you Google or otherwise explore the word kenosis you will discover that some theological heresy hunters react to kenosis like bulls to red rag. I rather like this because the Way has been called heresy before [Acts 24:14] and its good for taking mindset change seriously. If you do the same for kenarchy you may discover a rather bizarre form of student power evolved by one Kenny Woods in 2008. The ken is seemingly based on Kenny not kenosis! Again I rather like this as it has a grassroots feel.

The majority of the next few posts will explore various aspects of applied kenarchy.



  1. Fascinating, Roger…thanks. Interestingly, this is how Heidi Baker has described it – going lower, lower, lower…

    Grassroots indeed.

  2. I am afraid it doesn’t feel very grassroots to me. Grassroots to me suggests I should be able to go out on the streets and ask the first person I see what a word means and they would understand. Maybe I’m missing the point.

    • Hi Joanna
      By grassroots I was referring tongue in cheek to the way that Kenny Woods is advocating student power from the downside up. He may well be a self absorbed young man of course. But seriously, I don’t see grassroots as meaning immediate street level understanding. We are after something new here that isn’t too difficult to explain. Most English speakers are familiar with hierarchy, monarchy, oligarchy, and so on as ways of political organisation. Explaining that kenosis from the Greek word ‘keno’ put together with ‘archy’ as meaning a way of living by love that empties all that out may not be too difficult to explain and grasp. Time will tell!

      • I guess I am just weary of yet more terminology. I hear so many words bandied around which younger people do not really understand or have only a partial grasp of. Even my generation (I am 45) were not ones to “go to church” and so much of what was once understood, even if not accepted, in terms of terminology was rendered meaningless. I also recognise though how new words are formed and catch on and “go viral”, so yes it is possible.

  3. Hi, I’m Brandon. I have noticed that you have found out about Kenarchy, the student power created by Kenny Woods in 2008. I am actually part of the Kenarchy movement, managing things like the Kenarchy Wiki and Facebook page. Recently, Kenarchy has shifted from being a form of government to a music project. The creator of Kenarchy started this project in roughly January/February 2010, with heavy emphasis on the bass guitar instrument. So, Kenarchy is less of the government system that it originally started as, and is now more of a musical project. You can find the Kenarchy music on Youtube under the user channel “justdabass”.

    No, I am not the creator of Kenarchy. I am a good friend of the creator of Kenarchy, though.

    • Hi there Brandon,
      Yes I was interested to discover another kenarchy! As you can see from the related posts on my blog this is something pretty different to the student power created by Kenny Woods. But the connection to the bass guitar is seriously interesting, as those of us who coined the word kenarchy for the inconvenient operation of the self-emptying love of God that Jesus seems to have been about don’t see it as an organization of any kind but rather a beat or rhythm of life.
      Thanks for the contact

  4. Tell you the truth, Kenny Woods is actually an atheist. lol

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