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
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
Our calling at Church Multiplication Associates & @CMAResources is to multiply healthy disciples, leaders, churches and movements. Our 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:
* (Practical Resource- Life Transformation Group brochures
If you want to learn about growing, releasing and multiplying leaders, then read Organic Leadership
If 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)
If 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
If 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
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
If 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