What Does Authentic Organic Church Life Look Like? Part I

Posted on 05/01/2009

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I’ve entitled this post “authentic organic church life” simply because the word “organic church” is in vogue right now, and it’s being pasted on all sorts of different types of church forms, some of them being quite unorganic in nature.

On the heels of the recent blog post entitled Are You in the Wilderness?, what follows is a real-life testimony of someone describing his experience in an organic expression of the church. More will follow.

Note that an authentic organic church is truly missional in the sense that it’s been captured by a groundbreaking vision of the Grand Mission of God, which is His Eternal Purpose. And that purpose goes well beyond the reaches of salvation and redemption.

I was raised in a Christian home and attended church every time the doors were open. I knew how to live and behave like a Christian should. You might say I was the poster child. Late in high school and early college, I met some Christians who sparked a passion in me that I never knew was possible. I saw their passion to know Christ in deep ways, and more than that, they actually seemed to know Christ much more deeply than I.

In meeting them, I discovered that my own faith and knowledge of Christ was very shallow. You see, I realized that although I enjoyed going to church to be with my family and friends, I really viewed church as an obligation to endure in order to “hang out” with them before and after Sunday school, services, or youth group meetings.

I quietly sat through sermon after sermon hoping it would hurry up so we could go to the restaurant afterwards. Minutes after the sermons I couldn’t actually remember what was said. I already heard that I needed to go to church more, I needed to tithe more, I needed to read my Bible more, and I needed to witness more. It wasn’t until I met these other Christians that I realized that all of the previous churches that I was a member of didn’t fulfill my thirst for Jesus. They gave me rules and regulations instead of something that gave life. Instead of growing in Christ, I was “dying on the vine,” filled with fear, shame, and inadequacy. I didn’t actually enjoy talking about the Lord. Nor was I near as bold to share Jesus with nonbelievers. I would ask myself, If I was such a good Christian like I thought I was, why do I feel so far behind the curve?

The more I was with these believers, the more I wanted to know Christ like they did. I was drawn to Christ like a moth to a streetlight. I gradually began to spend more time with them and started going to their meetings. Their meetings were free and open. There was no liturgy. There were no clergy. They didn’t actually need them. There were plenty of believers who had encountered the Lord and had encouraging things to share with the others.

They didn’t need someone to give them permission to speak. They didn’t need someone to bury them in rules and lifeless duties. They wrote many of their own songs. They prayed together, taking turns talking to Jesus unrehearsed and from the heart. They met together as if Jesus was actually in the room. They treated each other like a family that loved each other.

After just a short while, I realized that this organic experience of Christ was exactly what was missing from my own experience. I began to crave gathering with these believers. I would go to their meetings and see a much bigger Lord than just someone who died for my sins. I would see Him in much deeper ways.

I was no longer satisfied with watching a performance. In this organic meeting, I began to want to share with my brothers and sisters what I had seen of the Lord. Instead of being passive, I now thought it was easy to function and contribute. Every one of our meetings was free to be different. Sometimes we sang for hours. Sometimes the believers were bursting at the seams to share what Jesus had done in their lives that week. Sometimes we revered the Lord’s awesomeness in silence. No one had to tell us to do these things. The Spirit was moving in these ways and they just spontaneously happened. We often ate together as one family.

Sometimes we shared scriptures with each other. Other times we enacted scenes and stories from the Bible that shed light on Christ. We met all throughout the week. In the mornings, the brothers would find another brother or two, and the sisters would get together with sisters. And we would pursue the Lord in prayer and contemplate Scripture together. We would start our day with Christ. In the evenings, some of the members would open up their homes and share Christ over dinner. We had brothers and sisters meetings where we would collectively decide on matters relating to the church. And we would share responsibilities for caring for one another.

If there were no pressing needs, we would just sing to the Lord and pursue His presence together. If there was a member in need, we would think of ways to help them. Sometimes we would just plan ways to bless each other for the fun of it. Sometimes the single people would babysit for the parents and give them a night out on the town. Sometimes when one of the brothers or sisters went away on a long trip, the whole church would show up at the airport to greet them. And we would have a church meeting right in the airport.

There was always something happening where you could share Christ and love the Lord together. We would also have spontaneous times of outreach to the lost. Everything we did, the Spirit was free to move and change the direction of the event. When we did get together, I saw a Christ glorified and magnified. We were constantly making new discoveries in Him. Every time I saw Him in a new way, I wanted to see more.

The feeling of guilt, shame, and unworthiness was gone. I had a passion to know Christ in deeper ways. I am through with dying on the vine. I have now seen the freedom that Christians can really have in meeting together organically, just like the early church did.

(A male international marketing and business consultant)

Excerpted from Reimagining Church, the Introduction.

Read Part II.

See also Visiting an Organic Church: A Report

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