In 1998 I was handed a book by my Senior Pastor that would change the way I viewed church and deposit a vision in my heart for a church that wasn’t program based. That book was “Where Do We Go From Here?” by Dr. Ralph Neighbour. I would later that year end up moving to Houston to be a part of a church planting team led by Dr. Neighbour and his wife Ruthie. Though that planting effort was short lived the desire to see something more organic emerge from our traditional ecclesiology has never faded. The pursuit of the organic church is elusive because we have failed to clearly define what it means to be organic; possibly fearing to taint even the pure perception of the word or hesitant to put our fingerprints on something we think only God should be touching.
In order to bring clarity, sometimes it is helpful to identify the misconceptions of a word or phrase. so first let me define organic and then present some myths about the organic church.
One of the definitions of organic we are most familiar with and that I will use for this post is how it relates to organic produce or food production. In this context organic is the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides.
This definition actually implies that organic is so much more than 100% spontaneous and all natural. In all reality organic production requires more planning and sweat equity to produce the desired product. With that said let me attempt to lay out some myths I’ve experienced with the concept of the organic church.
Myth #1 – Organic Church is not organized. Organic can only be derived from a living organism. An organism is a system with many parts that depend on each other and work together. Organic is not spontaneous, but strategic and a part of God’s plan. Organic church is by intelligent design not an undirected process of evolution. When God created life He made it complex and calculated so there would be know doubt who The Creator was. Organic Church should have the signature of The Creator on it. Obvious to all that it is a work of His hands. Organic is not a hands off approach, it’s hands on!
Myth #2 – Organic Church is system free. This myth shifts all responsibility to others instead of one another. To be organic is to be free of religious formulas, church growth methods and gimmicks. Systems however assist getting people to trust and depend on one another as they work together towards a greater cause or vision for a community. Healthy systems create and enhance healthy organic church communities. Without systems you really are more of an evolutionist who believes that chaos can produce healthy organized life.
Myth #3 – Organic Church isn’t messy. When ever you go organic you can guarantee crap is involved. Organic farming uses green manures, animal manures and crop rotations to fertilize the soil and maximize biological activity and maintain long-term soil health. I make mention of this because if you’re going organic you might want to grab a shovel. In order to maximize the life of your organic church community you are going to have to get knee deep in crap. People’s crap…sorry for being so blunt. Organic church is a call to life on life. Life that can get messy at times, life that stinks at times, but ultimately it is the fertilizer that causes us to grow mature in Christ and with one another.
Organic is the complexity of life simplified in Christ. Pursue it and embrace it and get ready to go to work!
If you enjoyed this post, please follow my blog or LIKE my Facebook page in the right hand column.