One of the most disturbing things I have heard was told to me by a professor who visited a small Christian community in Africa.‚ He told me that upon his arrival, these beautiful African people performed some of the most beautiful, indigenous music he had ever heard.‚ Their dress was simple, yet beautiful.‚ On Sunday morning, however, they put on their Western suits, walked into a Western-type building, and sang “Shine Jesus Shine” in their native tongue.‚ They put aside their own culture on Sundays and took on Western dress, Western music, and Western structures.
MIROR Churches are organic in nature.‚ Organic is a term from nature and carries with it the idea of natural.‚ No outside influences. Organic food is food that contains no pesticides (in the case of plants), manufactured treatments, or medicines (in the case of animals).
How are churches organic?
Organic are a reflection of the people and culture that make up this community of faith.‚ The seed of the gospel is planted in a community and the Spirit directs both its growth and form.
Most churches that are termed organic often have a structure more in line with house churches.‚ They organize organically and meet organically.‚ People develop a natural, relational affinity for one anther and a community of faith forms.‚ However, that is not to say that house churches are the only type of organic church.
Organic churches were the natural expression of the ekklesia in the Bible, and even through the first three to four centuries of Christianity.‚ Paul started some churches in the New Testament and yet some churches were organically created as people who embraced Christ at Pentecost left Jerusalem after the Passover season and headed home.‚ Some churches maintained their Jewish perspective while Gentile churches were different in practice.
Organic churches grow at their own pace.‚ In the Bible, you had the formation of the ekklesia at Pentecost where thousands embraced the work of Christ.‚ That was a God moment, planned from all eternity.‚ But you also see the organic church as being small within scripture.‚ In fact, what you don’t see outside of Pentecost is the growth of the church spoken of in numbers.‚ Growth was an expression of love and relationship with Christ, not the size of the building or numbers in attendance.‚ Growth comes when the marginal become transformed by the power of the Spirit.‚ The testimony of transformation and relationship is far greater than a new worship song.
Organic churches tend not to be clergy led.‚ In fact, for some people in the organic church movement, there is no such thing as clergy.‚ Organic churches do not see the separation between clergy and laity.‚ Everyone in the community of faith is a missionary.‚ No one comes, sits, and watches a production or show.‚ It is not a passive worship gathering; it is a participatory as everyone has the opportunity to be a part of the teaching and ministering of the church gathering.
The above are just a few characteristics of organic churches.‚ In a few follow-up posts, I will reflect on issues of theology and leadership in addition to consider more characteristics.‚ But for now, on to the important issue:
Why are organic churches important?
Organic churches are the key to movements.‚ Look at any church movement in Scripture, movements in the Chinese church, movements in the US in the early part of its history and you will see that it was the simple, organic expressions of Christ that was at the heart of the movement.‚ When the church institutionalizes, the movement slows.‚ It is happening even now in China.‚ If a fresh movement of Christ flows through USAmerica, the point of the arrow will be organic churches.