Friday, May 06, 2011

What's Wrong With Organic Church?

In our recent OC/Organic Church Forum, our facilitators Paul and Lori Byerly from asked us to make a list of what’s wrong with the house church movement.

Specifically, we were tasked to look at how our brothers and sisters in the traditional church were better equipped than simple churches to handle certain tasks, and to contrast what they do well with areas where we sometimes struggle.

It was a refreshing break from our usual flag-waving, back-patting conversations and allowed us to really step back and take a look at ourselves and gain some much-needed perspective.

Here’s what our list looked like:

•Organic churches are often invisible to the community
•Too inwardly focused
•Isolated from traditional churches
•Unequipped to deal with internal conflicts
•Too much spiritual pride – i.e. “We’re doing it the right way”
•Lack of networking and connection with other house churches
•Too closed and secretive
•Reluctance to confront error, sin, in the Body - i.e. "Church Discipline"
•Lack of resources to deal with divorce, addiction, depression, etc.

In addition, we also identified perceived problems that our traditional brothers and sisters see in us:

•Perceived lack of strong leadership
•Lack of spiritual covering
•Prone to heretical doctrines and practices

What would you add to this list? How do we address these problems or weaknesses within the organic church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts as I will be blogging over the next few weeks on several of these topics.


Felicity Dale said...

This is an interesting list and I look forward to your further posts on it. I would add that many house churches are probably doing "Honey, I shrunk the church!" ie they are doing what they've always done in traditional church in the four walls of their living rooms--someone has been asked to lead worship, another to bring a message from the word etc.

Jeremy Myers said...

I'm looking forward to these posts too.

Personally, I think the emphasis on apostolic authority is overdone a bit. We have something the early organic churches didn't... the "New Testament."

Anonymous said...

I am not quite as concerned about House church vs. big church. What I am concerned about it what is that community of believers actually doing to reach the lost. Are they putting their "deeds" where their mouth is? Are they being missional? I find the problem with traditional church is they are too focused on themselves to reach out most of the time. The church has consumed itself with ... itself. This can happen in any size gathering of believers when the focus gets shifted away from the Gospel. Finding "True Community" can happen a lot easier in a small gathering, eating a meal together and sharing life together, caring for one another and exhorting one another. Like Felicity said, doing traditional church in a home doesn't make it any better. This is a GREAT discussion and one I look forward to following.

Mike said...

Somehow we've got to move from going to church and doing church to being the church 24/7. We've all heard it before, but it my limited experience, I've yet to witness what that actually looks like. Those in house church are not immune to "it" become just a weekly meeting rather than a life that is lived. Quite honestly, I'm just not sure it is possible in our independent Americanized suburbanite lifestyles. Somehow I'm thinking that the lifestyles we've become accustomed to are themselves at odds with a Kingdom community and lifestyle.

Still searching...

Unknown said...

Thanks, Felicity, for finding this site for me. I, too, look forward to these posts as we wrestle with these same questions and, hopefully, have found some answers as we begin launching a network of organic churches here in North Texas.

Mark said...

I think it prudent to consider what you are referring to as "organic". As mentioned above, many groups that meet in homes or houses are just scaled down versions of the big church they are trying not to be like. They have a leader or pastor, a worship leader, deacons or elders and an agenda. These are not, by defnition, organic. The organic expression of the church is Jesus living through His body revealing Himself to the glory of the Father to those around us. The word "organic" is descriptive and has been hi-jacked by many groups who are anything but. To be the organic expression of the body of Christ is possible if we are willing to get out of His way with our own agendas and doctrines and just allow Him to be Who He is through us - showing His love, His patience, His forgiveness, His mercy - get the point? None of these attributes are found inside of our sinful nature, but when the Spirit indwells us, ALL of the attributes of Christ are imparted to us. We are "in Christ" and Christ is "in us" co-existing in the same body - just as God indwelt the man Jesus and Jesus abides in the Father. We can be as He is in this sense.

Perhaps this article should be more appropriately titled, "What's Wrong With House Church?" And it is true that there are no perfect churches out there and if you swhould find one DON'T join because then it would not be perfect any longer.

Unknown said...

Lack of networking and connection with other house churches . This is the one that effects Patti and I the most. We feel so isolated.