This post has moved here.
According to the NT, all believers are ministers, priests, and functioning parts of the body of Christ. That means that all lead in their specific spheres of ministry. So in a NT (organic) church, all lead in different ways. Elders exist, but they don’t rule over everyone else. See my post on “The Myth of Leadership.” My book “Reimagining Church” goes into great detail on this from Scripture – http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org
Frank, I enjoy your thought provoking posts but am a little confused by some of the information on organic church in regard to not having leaders. The Scriptures speak of giving double honor to elders who rule well and also titles individuals as apostles…
Thanks for the response. I understand the difficulty in answering my last question. But I’m really not all that worried about answering it for myself. I’m totally behind my church’s vision for growth and decsiplship in the context of small groups. It is fairly organic. I was posing more of a hypothetical situation.
Hi Alex. Good questions. I’ve been involved in organic expressions of the church for the last 25 years. I’ve written a series of books on the subject called “ReChurch” which draws from my experience as well as the biblical support for the concepts. The books answer all of your questions and more. If interested, you can find them at http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org
It’s not my place to answer your last question except to say that I believe it’s wrong to cause division in any kind of church, no matter what the form. I know what I’d do in that specific situation, but I cannot say what you should do.
I’m a little curious how someone would go about getting an “organic church” going? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the idea. The problem I’m having is that the general church culture isn’t very interested in it because the way we “do” church is so ingrained. It seems to me that this sort of movement will take a long time to get off the ground because it will require a change of heart and mind in the leadership of most churches. I say this because of the Watchman Nee quote. I or anyone else cannot simply leave our church and start an “organic” church without falling into the same trap as the “new apostles”. The risk is that we could be trying to force and organic environment, even if our intention is to focus on Jesus primarily.
I guess my question is how can we be “sent” to cultivate an organic way of doing church if the current church leadership doesn’t buy into the idea? Or I could ask, what if I feel I may have a calling and passion to plant a church, in that manner that you speak of, but the leadership of my church doesn’t agree with the vision?(These are hypothetical, I am actually part of a very good church that has a great vision for small group that are very organic)
Paul of Tarsus never calls himself “the Apostle Paul” … instead, he says: “Paul, a sent one (apostles) of Jesus Christ …” It’s not a title but a description of his calling. Very different. The believers never called him “The Apostle Paul” but just Paul, or brother Saul/Paul. I cover this in “Reimagining Church” and give other examples. http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org
A friend brought up a question after I shared this link:
you said: “In that connection, you would never see a first-century Christian sporting titles like “Apostle Delaquarius Epps”
They said: The Apostle Paul refers to himself as an Apostle.
How does this line up with your statement. Is there something relevant I/we could be missing about why Paul referred to himself as Apostle in his letters?
Great read. I’m glad I had my cup of jo this morning and came here first. You are stirring up all this stuff again Mr. Viola… I suppose I need it though. I’m starting to wonder why I’m still even looking for organic church, hoping for it, praying for it… because it seems like a cause I will never find!
And this statement rings true to where I am today: “Or, in some cases, because they raised themselves up in isolation from other Christians. (The latter is an equally abnormal environment for a Christian to be nurtured in.)” I can see that both are harmful, but I can’t find how to apply organic church living alone… *sigh* I have to keep hoping there is a reason for the seclusion and eventually it will make sense again.
Thank you so much – Great article, have shared.