A Former Skeptic: Why I’m pro-Organic Church (Part II)

Part II

What I mean by “Organic Church”

The term “Organic Church” gets thrown around in many different circles today. It’s a term that can vary in meaning depending upon whom you are talking to. It’s very difficult to sum Organic Church up without writing an entire book, but I will do my best.

Essentially Organic Church, to me, is a body of believers in a given location that are learning to live by the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ. They are a group of Christians that are learning to live, breath, smell, taste, see, hear, experience, and have a relationship with Christ the Head, corporately. They are learning to live by seeing Christ, not only as the Head, but as the Body too. In the first century when a body of believers was formed, they were absent of a form of hierarchical, chain-of-command style leadership. A church planter or Apostle (which means “sent one”) would stay anywhere from four to eighteen months ministering to, and equipping the new body of believers, then the Apostle would leave the church all on its own to function under the leadership and headship of Christ. Elders and Deacons would form organically after several years of church life. Remember, the first century Christians had no idea what seminary was, this came about hundreds of years later. Notice that the letters to the early churches in the New Testament, Paul, James, Jude, John, and Peter, were usually addressing issues within the church. They never wrote to individuals on how to live the individual Christian life (excluding 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). So essentially, Organic Church-ers are following the first century model of “doing church,” with open-participatory meetings, mutual sharing, the “building together up in love,” with Christ as the Head, center, circumference, and focus. That’s how I’ve come to understand “Organic Church” in a nutshell.

[The above mentioned history of the early Church is derived from Frank Viola’s The Untold Story of the New Testament Church. He did all the academic work, so I can’t take any credit for the above noted history of the early church]

Why I’m pro-Organic Church

Okay, so we’ve covered why I left the institutional church and, very briefly, what Organic Church is. Another small example of what it looks like I’ve covered in another post titled What Does Organic Church Look Like?. So now let’s go over what I’ve experienced thus far in Organic Church (in the meaning in which I’m using the term) and why I’m so pro-organic.

It seems that every day we Christians are being encouraged to live out our individual Christian lives by the books we read, sermons that are preached, and even how we read the Bible. But, in my personal opinion, this is completely and utterly wrong and robs God’s people of becoming what we were meant to be by relying on one or only a few “spiritual leaders” for our spiritual food and encouragement. No one person can ever hold the depths and riches of Jesus Christ, only a body of believers with the freedom to share what the Lord has put on their heart could can come close to touching His wonderful riches. No seminary, book, amount of learning, biblical knowledge, or the like, can ever “equip” you to share His glorious riches. Only an indwelling Lord with unsurpassed grace can accomplish that. Praise Jesus for that! We all have a piece of Jesus within us. In the words of Paul, “…in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22) Like I stated earlier, most of the letters to the early church in the New Testament were not to individuals. They were to churches, a group of believers in a specific location.

In my opinion, the Christian life can’t be lived out to its fullest individually. Our culture teaches us to be individualistic in everything we do. From jobs to families and even on to religion. This concept of “just figure it out yourself” is a man-made, Americanized philosophy; not Jesus. His attitude is one of unity and family. As we live in real community, living together, sharing meals, getting to know one another, going through struggles together, lending a helping hand, forming brother and sisterhoods, bearing the cross for one-another, we grow more and more into Christ. Jesus wasn’t a lone-wolf when He walked this planet. He too, experienced and taught community life. The only time Jesus was alone was to be with God the Father. So if Christ is our ultimate example, shouldn’t we follow it? And if Jesus is the Head and the Church is the Body, then by skipping past the Body, aren’t we only experiencing half of our Lord? What if I, when talking to you, only noticed your head. Though you talk, listen, and think with your head, you do the work with your hands, a part of your body. You walk where you want to go with your legs and feet, another part. You breath through the lungs in your chest, yet another body part. So, if I only experience your head and facial features, I’m still only seeing half of you. I wouldn’t know whether you work outside or inside. If you play guitar, piano, build models, or make pottery. I mean sure, you could tell me you do all these things but I would never be able to experience the things you do, thus making it only an ideal instead of a reality. The same goes with Christ. Jesus becomes a real and living Person that you can experience on a daily basis in the midst of community. So what is it about togetherness? The answer is simple, each and every member serves its function in the body and expresses a particular aspect of Christ. So essentially, if you want to see Christ in real life, today, look at the church—the Body of Christ.

That is why I love the church, and why I believe organic community is the only community. The family of God is similar to a normal, earthly family. In a healthy context, it grows and progresses naturally. In a family, we don’t have to have programs, schools, degrees, or the aid of an “image consultant.” The family grows and matures organically by the direction and leadership of the head—that is, the parents. So it is with the church (the children) and the parent (Jesus Christ).

The above statements aren’t merely head knowledge or the accumulation of some books I’ve read. That would make this entire post an ideal, not an actuality. So I’m speaking from my experience when I write about the Body and what it means to me. In the short time I’ve been in organic community, I’ve come to know Jesus in such a real way that words would fail utterly to describe it. Christ is no longer a word but a glorious Person. Jesus is no longer a set of rules and regulations to me, but a Tree, that is, the Tree of Life. He is my everything and He apparently lives inside me, and me inside of Him. I feel as though what I’ve seen of Christ in these few short months surpasses all that I’ve seen Him all together in the past two years prior. I have grown in many things that I always assumed were things I was supposed to be doing on my own, such as: patience, love, faith, and righteousness. I was taught that I was supposed to live up to these principles myself in order to live a good Christian life. But I’ve quickly learned through the Body that Christ is my patience, my love, my faith, my righteousness. I believe, that only through the Body, can we ever expect to live our Christian lives to the full.

Conclusion

The journey I’m currently on is very new, it has only begun. I’m still learning each and every day. But the more I learn, the more I see, the more I know, the harder it is for me to keep silent about it. At first I planned on not telling anyone about what I was doing here for a long period of time in order to find out exactly what this is. But as time goes on, the more verbal I become about the Bride of Jesus. I finally have the language and the experience behind the ideal that’s really not an ideal anymore, but a truth based upon experience. I’m still a baby and not knowledgeable about how the church functions and grows, seeing as how I’ve only been here five, going on six, months (this was written in July 2010). In this short time I’ve already met several people who are in the exact situation I was in a year ago. In that day, I thought I was the only one. I thought that, surely, no one of my particular age group (I’m 21 years old [at time of authorship]) could be going through the same situation. But I was wrong. Already I’ve spoken with and met several others. So to me, if I’ve spoken to several, that means that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of young people in that same boat. Not knowing if Organic Church is the way to go, if it’s worth leaving all the comforts of home for, if it’s worth being ridiculed and gossiped about, if it’s worth the sacrifice. Let me tell you now, it is! Worth every tear, mile, sacrifice, bad reputation, word of slander. I’m completely convinced of this.

I hope I have encouraged someone with this article. I hope I’ve made a few things clear. I really hope I haven’t added any confusion over the matter or made things more difficult, that’s not my heart in writing this. My heart is to help and encourage, whether you’re young or old, married or single, willing or not. I’m fully convinced at this point that Jesus is resurrecting the organic expression of the church in this time, in our generation. I’m also convinced that only an organic expression of the church can express Jesus in His fullness.

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20 thoughts on “A Former Skeptic: Why I’m pro-Organic Church (Part II)

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  1. Michael,

    Thank you so much for these two posts about Organic Church and how it is impacting your life. It is such an encouragement to me and I will most likely be sharing these posts with others in the near future.

    Brenda and I can’t wait to be in Gainesville with all of the brothers and sisters. We’ll see you soon.

    In Him,
    Tobias

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  2. Geez Mike, you’re a beast.

    Good stuff. Don’t have time to comment on all of it, but your writing is great, and Jesus is greater.

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  3. This is a very well written, very concise, to the point summary and it’s written in a way that is easy to understand. I wish I had written this to my family and friends, but I totally lack the real world experience in Organic Church. I greatly yearn for more of this, and to experience it. I feel the current of God pulling me in this direction too.

    You write well… I can tell that you have been with Jesus, and I see that I need this too.

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  4. Michael, I really enjoyed reading parts I and II of your post.

    Imagine sitting in front of a huge back drop of the grand canyon; a colorful high definition, two dimensional representation. You’re admiring this great piece of digital photography, when suddenly, the back drop is removed, and you’re now actually sitting at the precipice of the real thing. You grab the sides of your chair, white knuckling it, in awestruck wonder; overwhelmed by the depth, length, height and breadth of this seventh-wonder-of-the-world three dimensional reality. That’s what it was like when it pleased God to reveal His Son in me, as up against being introduced to Him in the “traditional” sense. The back drop just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

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  5. Great to read. You seem to have a good handle on what we call “organic.” I too did things like you did when younger. I’m involved with organic church in DC.

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  6. We met in July in Orlando at Threshold. You sought us out (the dallas folk) and pointed us to Chris & Julie Upton in Dallas, who we now know share our heart for the organic expression. I am blessed by your heart and your desire to become all God designed you to be. You are an inspiration and I look forward to more posts here in the future. Blessings! <

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  7. Thank you for posting this, Michael! Blessed me greatly. The Lord recently gave us a brother and sister here in Wisconsin. I feel like a light bulb that I never knew existed in me before has been switched on. So full, so illuminated I could almost burst. Awed by the presence of the Lord. I’ve experienced the Lord many times before, but never to this overwhelming extent. And yet … I have felt Christ calling my family out to Gainesville for about six weeks now. Can’t shake it … doesn’t make any sense with having bought a house last year and the home buyer tax credit hanging over our heads, let alone finally finding other saints after 2.5 years waiting for some in Wisconsin. All I know is its the Lord without a doubt. Willing if the Lord paves a way but no clue where to begin. Would appreciate prayers and any advice you can give.

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  8. The Lord Jesus Christ has saved you, it is now for you to be His apostle to other brothers and sisters. The term “Organic Church” is very realistic with the Christian life. The Holy Spirit has helped you to express very well in simple and concise language. I pray that He continue to enlighten you and guides you on your walk with Christ. May the Lord bless you and your “Organic Church” profusely to grow and be the tree for many “birds” to come and find shelter.

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