Some thoughts on Organic Church

Organic Church

Organic Church“We believe that church should happen wherever life happens. You shouldn’t have to leave life to go to church.”

I remember when I was younger (and more idealistic for some silly reason), I wanted every time I got together with friends for us to have a prayer time, or a singing time – worship, basically a time where we touched the heart of the Father. Well, needless to say, it didn’t happen very often. Most people, even my strong Christian friends, weren’t interested in “getting spiritual” in normal every day contexts. But this is what Neil is saying, that church should happen where ever we are.

“Most Christians today are trying to figure out how to bring lost people to Jesus”. (Organic Church by Neil Cole, p.24) Think about this phrase for a second. It sounds great, mainly because we have heard it so many times. Now consider “The key to starting churches spontaneously is to bring Jesus to lost people. We’re not interested in starting a regional church but rather making Jesus available to a whole region.” This makes more sense I believe. Cole talks about how so many of our churches go out of their way to attract people into the building, so that they can hear the message. I would dare to say that people just aren’t interested no matter what we do. They are seeking, but not enough to travel here and there. Taking Christ into their world, where life happens, is what Cole is advocating.

After many circumstances, and times where his heart broke for the young people of California in tears and prayers, he and some friends began to hang out at a local coffeehouse. “We played checkers, chess, or dominoes with the regulars who came to the coffeehouse, and we became part of the crowd. We would listen intently to people’s stories and offer compassionate prayer for those who were hurting. We did not preach at people, but they would often ask us about our spiritual lives….Before long my living room was filled with new life. Rather than move to a larger space, we sent small teams of two or three to other coffeehouses to start other churches.” (p.26)

I don’t want to get too long here, but I really want to quote Cole from page 26-27:

“These churches we were starting were small (avg. 16) and simple. …we valued a simple life of following our Lord and avoiding many of the complexities of the conventional church. Complex things break down and do not get passed on, but simple things are strong and easily reproduced. Ordinary Christians were able to do the extraordinary work of starting and leading churches because the work was simple, the results powerful.

…’We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple.’ If church is simple enough that everyone can do it and is made up of people who take up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be churches that empower the common Christian to do the uncommon works of God. Churches will become healthy, fertile, and reproductive.

The conventional church has become so complicated and difficult to pull off that only a rare person who is a professional can do it every week. Many people feel that to lower the bar of how church is done is close to blasphemous because the Church is Jesus’ expression of the Kingdom on earth. Because church is not a once-a-week service but the people of God’s family, what they have actually done is the opposite of their intention. When church is so complicated, its function is taken out of the hands of the common Christian and placed in the hands of a few talented professionals. This results in a passive church whose members come and act more like spectators than empowered agents of God’s kingdom.”

Comment – I find we often talk about being empowered agents, but I am beginning to believe that we can talk all we want, but the very structure of North American church hinders and limits the Christian, turning them unintentionally into that “passive church”

Last quote – “The organic or simple church, more than any other, is best prepared to saturate a region because it is informal, relational, and mobile. Because it is more financially unencumbered with overhead costs and is easily planted in a variety of settings, it also reproduces faster and spreads further. Organic church can be a decentralized approach to a region, nation, or people group and is not heavily dependent upon trained clergy.”

___
Reposted from the blog: simmerings of a saxon

Wisdom from Our Mentor

George Patterson
Every time we eat, we eat the fruit of God’s
tremendous reproduction power given to plants
and animals. Look around out of doors; it’s
everywhere — grass, trees, birds, bees, babies and
flowers. All creation is shouting it! This is the way
God works! . . . We ourselves don’t make the church
grow or reproduce, any more than pulling on a stalk
of corn would make it grow.
— George Patterson

Gleaned from Neil Cole’s blog Cole-Slaw

Quick Explanation of Neil Cole’s Books

Neil Cole

Our calling at Church Multiplication Associates & @CMAResources is to multiply healthy disciples, leaders, churches and movements.  Neil ColeOur friend, Neil Cole has articulated many of the things we have learned in these areas in his written works.  Below is a listing of those resources authored by Cole and their focal points:

 

Disciples:

Search & RescueIf you want to learn about making and multiplying disciples, then read Cultivating A Life for God  and/or  Search & Rescue [paperback version is titled  “Ordinary Hero“]

* (Practical Resource- Life Transformation Group brochures

 

Leaders:

If you want to learn about growing, releasing and multiplying leaders, then read Organic Leadership 

Organic LeadershipIf you want to lead a group of emerging leaders through advanced doctrinal study so they can be trained in context, and not be shipped off to a seminary, then check out TruthQuest 

If you want to learn about leadership development, learn about your own development, and get a great, practical,  and biblical perspective on the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul, the read Journeys to Significance

If you want to shape a leadership development track for your ministry or network of churches, check out Raising Leaders for the Harvest

*(Practical Resource- Mentoring Guides for coaching leaders)

 

Churches:

Organic ChurchIf you want to be challenged about your view of the church, and think biblically about how to take the church to people, then you should read Organic Church

Church TransfusionIf you are part of a conventional church and want it to become a seedbed of mission and multiplication as the church was meant to be see Church Transfusion

If you want to gain insights that will pave the way for the emergence of fruitful multiplication of disciples, leaders, churches, etc. with a thick resource including 3-ring binder, 8 audio CDs and the Powerpoint, check out Beyond Church Planting by Neil Cole and Bob Logan.

 

* Practical Training- Organic Church Planter’s Greenhouse Story 1 & Story 2

 

Movements:

If you want to read about the top ten questions people ask about organic church, learn from a practitioner inside of a church multiplication movement and get a vision for the future of the church, then check out Church 3.0 

Insightful Videos from Neil Cole

Newforms

Newforms

Our bro, Neil Cole was at the Newforms National Conference in April and they captured some video…these clips are short (3-5 minutes) and pithy!

 

 

  1. Sabatoging Movements
  2. What is Church Planting “Movementum”?
  3. The Power of a Movement
  4. Building a Movement
  5. Believe in the Seed

We’re Not Multiplying! by Traver Dougherty

Our community hasn’t multiplied for awhile; What should we do?

Tree GrowingOne of the more difficult things in the organic church movement is lack of numerical growth. No, this doesn’t mean the movement as a whole isn’t multiplying. It is. But sometimes, individual house churches either stagnate or seem to stagnate. What’s going on?Well, there’s a number of things. Sometimes we’re too eager for numerical growth. Sometimes we’re not actively making disciples apart from our house churches. Sometimes, a house church is in its golden years and, at some point, will die and open the door for a whole new crop of house churches.
There’s a Time for Everything
Excerpted from King Solomon’s writings; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Look CloserMy Reflections

While the answers to this question are not cut and dry, here are a few things to consider or things you can proactively do when stagnation sets in.

  1. Enjoy the golden years: My community is a 4th generation house church. While I think we may have some more reproducing to do, menopause may have already kicked in. Every church has a life cycle: birth, growth, stability, decline, death. Referring to his death, Yeshua (Jesus) said, “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (Jn 12:24). I have several theological reasons to believe this cycle occurs at the community level as well. Don’t fight it; the golden years are some of the best.
  2. Make disciples: Remember, Yeshua will build his church (Mt 16:18). Our job is to make disciples. Never ever think poorly of your community because it’s not growing. Let it be. If you want to do something (and we all should), pray for the lost, scatter lots of Kingdom seed, and begin discipling those who respond. I guarantee that if this is happening, your church won’t stagnate for long.
  3. Start another fellowship: There’s no reason why you can’t take part in an existing community and start another one; Paul the apostle made a regular practice of it. I may be in the middle of starting another community myself, but I’m still discerning. The disciples I’m making are just on the cusp of taking that next step.
  4. Talk openly with your community: Sometimes, fellowships close up because of past hurts. Allowing others to join opens the door to additional pain. When this happens, be sensitive. Before inviting new people, ask your fellowship if it’s okay. If they say yes, then proceed accordingly. If they say no, that’s the time to gently ask why and address the issue. If the answer remains no for too long, make some more disciples and start another community.
  5. Remember who’s in charge: Yahweh is, you’re not. Sometimes I think we need to take a collective chill pill. My eldest son just entered high school. He’s going to try out for the baseball team and I think he needs to gain a little weight. Every once in a while, I’ll get on to him about taking protein supplements. When I feel my “pushing” get a little out of hand, here’s what I try to remember. First, there are seasons for growth (he has yet to hit his pubescent growth spurt). Second, artificial growth has it’s dangers. Third, my un-contentment can sometimes send the wrong message – I don’t like you the way you are.

As you press forward, just remember that if you scatter lots of Kingdom seed and keep yourself close to Yeshua (Jesus), good things will happen. And no matter what, let’s keep things in perspective: we’re nothing really. Paul writes, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:6, 7).

 

As always, The Banqueting Table hopes this was of some benefit to you.
Sincerely,

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table

Originally written August 15, 2011

“I Mean Something Which We Cannot Control” by Roland Allen

Roland AllenIf we are willing to relinquish control and allow for spontaneous multiplication in our churches, we will see the gospel go further than we ever dreamed possible. In the classic book written ahead of its time, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It, Roland Allen describes the advantage of losing control in a release of spontaneous multiplication.

By spontaneous expansion I mean something which we cannot control. And if we cannot control it, we ought… to rejoice that we cannot control it. For if we cannot control it, it is because it is too great, not because it is too small for us. The great things of God are beyond our control. Therein lies a vast hope. Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ: our control cannot reach as far as that. We constantly bewail our limitations: open doors unentered; doors closed to us as foreign missionaries; fields white to the harvest which we cannot reap. Spontaneous expansion could enter open doors, force closed ones, and reap those white fields. Our control cannot: it can only appeal pitifully for more men to maintain control.

Other Articles on Roland Allen:

The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part One-His Life
The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part Two-His Philosophy of Missions
The Influence of Roland Allen on 21st Century Church Planting
Audio Presentation on Roland Allen by Dr. J.D. Payne

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