Saturday, March 19, 2016

Organic Life Cycles

Our house church has been together now for 10 years. To me, that's pretty amazing.

Over the years we've gone through different seasons, each with their own set of blessings and challenges.

But there's no guarantee that every house church will follow the same life cycle.

Organic churches are living things. They each have their own personalities and they each have their own life span. No two are exactly alike. And that's a good thing!

Early on in our house church we had an interesting conversation about what would happen if our little group broke up and folded. How would I feel about that, someone asked me.

Honestly, I answered that this was His church and not mine. God is the one who put us all together and if He wanted to rearrange us tomorrow that was His perogative.

A few years later I met a wonderful brother in Christ. He had such a powerful calling on his life, reaching out to people in Twelve Step meetings and sharing the Gospel with them, and then inviting them to gather with other believers in an organic church setting. He started dozens and dozens of groups like this over the years. Yet, somehow, he always felt like a failure.

"Every group I start fizzles out after just a few months," he said. His conclusion was that either he was a lousy church planter, or that the organic church movement wasn't everything it was cracked up to be. But he was wrong about both.

Bob was an excellent church planter. He was obedient to share the Gospel with broken people and he was faithful to help them discover their place in the Body of Christ. That was all wonderful!

But because Bob had the expectation that these organic churches had to persist, and multiply and spawn a massive movement across Southern California he considered himself a failure.

For the record: Bob is not a failure. He is not wasting his time.

Bob is a faithful servant of Jesus who is compelled to share Christ with others and he is doing exactly what he is called to do.

But, why do those organic churches he starts fall apart after a year or less?

Answer: Who cares?

If the Lord desires to draw people together for short periods of time so that they can be built up and then He decides to move them here, or there, to inspire others or to pursue their own callings, what is that to you?

Every living thing has its own life cycle. Every church will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is natural.

Some organic churches will last for a decade or more. Others may last for only a few months. But as long as they are submitted to Him, they will last as long as He wants them to last.

This video illustrates the natural progression of living cells. Take a look and see the beauty and the wonder of life as God has designed it. Notice also that every living thing dies.

So, it may be that your organic church has run its course. Or it may be that God's will is for your group to continue on together, bearing fruit and building one another up in Christ.

Ultimately, that decision belongs to Him, and to Him alone.

As Neil Cole has suggested, some churches need to die in order to allow the Lord to do something new in their midst. He urges those churches to actually have a funeral and to bury the church as they once knew it. Then, he recommends coming together again a few days later to celebrate a baby shower and to anticipate the new birth that Jesus wants to bring them.

It might be a good idea to seriously consider this if you're sensing that your church fellowship has run its course. But I would caution you to go to the Father first and seek Him together about that.

After all, it's His Church, not ours.


1 comment:

the alternative1 said...

Good advise as I am pondering to leave my gathering--I will consult with Father and listen to His leading