Organic Church by Neil Cole Part 1
Upon Dash’s recommendation I picked up Organic Church. By the end of the book I wasn’t disappointed. Like so many other church leadership / church growth books this work uses organic metaphors to describe how church should function. I’m always a bit wary when we starting using examples from nature as an authoritative guide for how to structure churches.
Much of the book is the typical house/simple/organic church kind of stuff. The church is not an institution it is people, the building isn’t it, church doesn’t happen in one hour etc…
Neil Cole is some kind of charismatic. He talks of dreams and visions and places a big emphasis on the Holy Spirit. I like this because I maintain that one of the key reasons the church is dying is that we place our faith in things we can control rather than God. With no faith we lack real spiritual empowerment.
Cole says “In many of the churches in the West, ministry is done for Jesus, but not by Jesus—and therein lies a big difference.”
I agree whole heartedly. Following this line of thinking will eventually get you to the old debate about how much the Holy Spirit uses planning and do you stifle the Spirit by scripting your meetings. For years I’ve thought that we should plan for the Spirit to do His thing. We must leave at least some elements to chance. The Spirit works through gifts in the body (1Cor 12). Those gifts work best the context of relationships. Relationships cannot be scripted. You can put all the elements together but the chemical reaction has to happen outside of our direct control.
This brings me to another one of Neil’s good points. Most life changing ministry happens in groups of two or three. The bible has examples of two or three doing something a couple of times and I’ve yet to hear somebody say it is pattern for ministry but I think he is right. Most life changing ministry is a couple of people together talking, praying or working together. If you don’t have that you have a pretty lonely church.
I think the church places too much emphasis on large group events. On their own they have very limited value. There is a value in singing songs and some people remember sermons (I don’t). Large group ministry is kind of like pouring water over a car to get it clean. For the most part words from the pulpit wash right over people and a few hours water you would never know anything hit them. These kinds of gatherings provide no place for real fellowship, accountability or community. I’ve never quite understood how some people think staring at the back of someone’s head is community.
More to come…