Category: Organic Church


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SeperationExploring the possibility of real unity under one roof despite differences of opinion

Is it really such a problem that we are so divided over differences of opinion? Well, yes and no! Let me explain. When a group shows a lack of consideration or any hint of inflexibility to the idea of members holding differing views then there is a problem. Whether it’s a study on the Amish, or any denomination, church or a sweet little home group, where there is inflexibility, there are problems, all be they hidden.

Defaulting to Control and Conformity

Strangely, we gravitate to control and conformity of thought, finding security in it, rather than recognizing the threat that environments with enforced views have on liberty and healthy grow. And, in this bubble-like environment, we become threatened by those who bring different views. Yet, it’s a God given liberty to individually discover and hold different views as long as it’s in an honest pursuit of Biblical truth in relationship with God. Denying a person that is wrong! True growth and genuine unity is based on love, not enforced ideas.

Developing Unity: Embracing Messy People

While we should affirm that the Bible is the only sure expression on which to base doctrine, we should nevertheless allow for messiness in interpretation to be a part of normal growth. And, rather than shun, or try and control those with various views, we should expect this to be a normal process of the development in peoples’ understanding. Paul seems content to allow for differences in thought as a part of growth when he writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Php. 3:14-16).

The potential disunity created by various views can be overcome if we give room for each to hold onto his or her convictions. For example, the practice of the Christening of infants with confirmation and the practice of believer’s baptism need not be divisive. Must we really go to separate buildings and worship apart from one another because we differ on issues like this? Let each do according to how they best understand God’s word and let God who fellowships with us all be blessed by seeing us lovingly fellowship despite our various opinions.

The Sin of Preeminence

Fervent opposition to the culture of guru following and any form of hierarchy and control is essential to avoid being led by some whacko (brother) or narcissistic leadership. And, I propose that it is easier to have unity with diversity under one roof if a decentralized, non-hierarchical, organic model is followed, where the Bible is the foundation for truth, and where room is given for individuals to have and share varied opinions and persuasions in the light of God’s word.

If we fellowship based on commonality of thinking then we will always be divided and will continue to divide. Unity based on control does not foster the loving fellowship that is founded solely on our brotherhood in Christ. Only in the cases of serious discipline, because of ongoing unrepented sin, should someone be kept from fellowship.

This sin can be when elders try to rule and over the church. This seems to be the sin that gets unnoticed because of our default to hierarchical control. See my posts Hierarchical Leadership – The Main Hindrance in the Body of Christ Part 6 and No Rank, only Roles in the Body of Christ for more on this sin.

In my next post I’ll share more on this hope.

Rob

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: God’s Home

Part 2: Issues and Opinions

Part 3: Blissfully Ignorant in My Church

Part 4: The Problem of Being Different in Church

Part 6: Loving the Wacky, Not Their Wackiness

Part 7: Preeminent Leaders and Super-Gurus

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Very useful post by Jim Wright, Crossroad Junction, on healthy leadership within authentic organic church plants.

mFTU2t6[1]In the West, a consumer mentality is often fostered in us even when it comes to church. We, unfortunately, all too easily have a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. And, where this exists, little is required of every member to grow in real love and care for each other. And, we like it that way!

Unfortunately, as a result of this, we experience a shallow form of what church really is. While we go deeper and deeper in knowledge with our countless programs, teachings and seminars, we remain poor in true fellowship where genuine love is fostered.

A Family, Not a Business 

Our family is currently planning a trip to Disney World where a bunch of professionals do a superb job of running around in order to make the visitors happy. Isn’t this what church has become for many of us? In contrast, church life should be like family life where flexibility and sensitivity is fostered among every member toward one another and their needs.

Small Groups

Church cell groups, as well as organic, simple and house churches all contribute to making church more real, intimate and participatory for many and I would say are probably less prone to being consumer-oriented. And, I would also greatly encourage everyone to participate in a group of this nature. However, having said that, these groups often struggle to know how to adequately incorporate children with their needs into their gatherings.

Chidren

What to do with the children can easily be a bone of contention and as a result it is probably ignored rather than addressed. Isn’t it strange that, “leave well alone” is the adage followed when all isn’t well. In this case, not addressing this issue of properly incorporating our children is at the peril of a healthy church life, the children’s best and their desire to remain attending when as adults the choice becomes theirs.

Let’s remember that children who have come to faith are a part of His Body. They need nourishment and are even able to nourish. The joy of successfully incorporating everyone should be our goal, especially those that Jesus demonstrated He would never turn away.

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Recently I read a post called, “So Whaddaya do With the Kids” at http://www.home-church.org/voicesdocs/whaddaya.html  that demonstrates a wise, incorporative and selfless model worth considering.  I put it to you as an example “…so that you may know how one is to behave in God’s household, which is the church of the living God (1 Tim 3:15).

Rob Morley

Organic Church proponents, of whom I am one, are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to our view on preaching, teaching and big meetings. The typical style of a modern church meeting in the west, where teachers and preachers speak to large audiences sitting in rows, is getting a bad rap from some in the organic church.  Frustrated by the stifling of their gifts and the lack of participation of themselves and others in church life, some have responded by seeing the activity of meeting in buildings and listening to a teacher or preacher while looking at the back of another person’s head as the problem.  But is it? Isn’t the problem rather that this kind of meeting has usurped the many other expressions of church? In fact, hasn’t this happened to the extent that this meeting is even commonly known as “church?” And, isn’t it true that these meetings get handled as if they had premier status over any other that the church may have?

Firstly, is the idea of sitting in a large building to hear a man teach or preach unbiblical? While homes were undoubtedly the most commonly used venues for church meetings in New Testament times, nevertheless, these larger meetings played a major part in Jesus’, Paul’s, Peter’s and others’ ministries.  And, this was not only in the temple while it still stood, and in the Jewish synagogues, but this practice of speaking to large groups in ad hoc and formal setting happened at various times in various places. Jesus addressed crowds on many occasions, for example, on a mountain with the Sermon on the Mount, and similarly in a valley, and also from a boat, in the Temple and in synagogues. Peter, Paul and others did so too. In fact, on one occasion, Paul chose to use a hall for the ministry he had in Ephesus and he did so for two years.

“But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation (synagogue), he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.  This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.  And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them…many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices” (Acts19:9-12,18).

While it can be rightly argued that the home became the common place for church meetings, they certainly were not the only place. In the above text we see that while Paul was in Ephesus he chose to use a “hall” as a place to minister from.  Although homes became wonderful venues for the church to meet in, larger venues were great and effective places for certain forms of teaching and preaching.

Let’s not bark up the wrong tree!

I believe that the problem is not with these larger meetings, but it’s rather with the typical church governance practiced in most churches. Up-and-coming preachers or teachers usually embrace the common system of church governance in front of them, unaware that it’s unbiblical. In its basic form, they get given the title “Pastor” and get to preside over a church. An unbiblical hierarchy is established and as a result, these “pastors” are treated differently. Unintentionally, but nevertheless automatically, they come across as being above the common folk (their brothers and sisters).  With a system that puts such a “man of God” is in charge, it’s easy to see why Sunday morning becomes the premier meeting and sadly often times the only meeting. It’s also easy to see why his gifts become the focus at the expense of those in the flock.

To counter this, let’s not swing the pendulum away from having these larger meetings or from championing those who teach or preach effectively to large audiences, as most church pastors do. In doing that we would not only be losing out on a valuable form of ministry, but also be in danger of not growing teachers and preachers for the next generation. Preaching or teaching to a large gathering is not a problem. Rather, wrong church governance is!

Rob Morley

Institutional Church

One of the dilemmas that believers face inside the institutionalized Church is that they are often not taught how to hear from God and how to be active in their faith. When they are taught these fundamental spiritual basics, they are often limited in their expression of this dynamic.

Another dilemma is that members easily expect the church leadership to think for them, removing their own individual responsibility in their spiritual growth. Just as detrimental is when church authority lords it over its members by not allowing them to think for themselves.

We do need leadership in the form of elders who teach, preach, and pastor in each church and who come alongside, not hierarchical church leadership. The simple/organic Church movement embraces the Bible scriptures that teach that all believers are “priests” and does away with the top-down structure of the pope/pastor church.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood… that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9 ESV).

Incidentally, the idea that only the husband or father is the priest in the home is an Old Testament concept that undermines and inhibits the truth of the New Testament. All believers in a family are priests. Imagine the potential of that!

By Tina and Rob Morley

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