Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finding Organic Church: Insights

Once again I am bringing to progressives some of the missional insights from author Frank Viola, author of Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church, and others.

I will concentrate on two short areas, keeping it, appropriately, simple and sustainable. The Five Unmoveable Principles. The Four (I would make it Five) Practices of Meeting. The Three Things Pastors of Institutional, Established Churches Can Do If They Want To Become Organic. These are good summaries of some of the questioning, the findings, we have made here in the past four years, or past seven years; some still challenge me and us; some will guide us as we are about to embark, we hope, on a new phase and in new places for church as A Third Place Community.

The Five Unmoveable Principles:
1. Become like Little Children...drop your agendas, your ambitions, unlearn the institutional church ways, be curious and ready to discover new ways. No one is or becomes the clergy or designated leader full time. (This is the biggie; it is why it is number one; some will stop reading at this point; it is also difficult, but it is even more of a problem not to address it; there is also a spectrum that can come into play, and later in this post you will see that this doesn't mean relying on others with an outside role with wisdom and experience).
2. Your feelings will get hurt. Great that he puts that as a principle, almost like if feelings are not getting hurt than it isnt organic and it isnt missional and risky and dangerous enough to be called church. It emphasizes that the church isnt really about us individually.
3. Be patient with the progress of the group. It takes time to unlearn, to practice new ways, to develop authentic community.
4. People will leave your group. It is natural and expected and desired for what it means you arent trying to be all things to all people, but know your mission and your ways. It creates the spirit of abundance that is so vital, and that often sets you a part from other churches.
5. People will experience exciting spiritual growth and healing.

Think about what is the opposite of these five principles and how much of your institutional established church might hold to them instead: People focus on the past, are afraid to explore new things and ways; people keep their feelings to themselves and so don't share deeply with others; people are anxious about how the church is doing, growing or not, trying one big thing after another; worrying about attracting and holding members instead of focusing on mission
; there is no dynamism or surprises or sharing of pain and healing, of changes.

The Four (or Five) Practices of Organic Church Meeting

1. Sing Together. Viola puts this first. It builds real authentic community as people together learn the value of their own voices. Becomes a place of vulnerability, the first step in a trusting community, a necessary step to becoming a leadership team.
2. Share Together. Go deep into spiritual lessons, oddyseys. Here is where i would call it serve and share together. working on things together in the poorest areas if possible.
3. Eat Together. Intentional meals, potluck, or preparing together, creating a place for relationships to be grown.
4. Have Fun Together. Many ways suggested for getting together, especially at times along gender and age lines where you can focus on the unlearning how church can be church without focusing on the religious trappings. creates opportunities to see children as blessing, not as some problem to be dealt with.

The Three Main Ways to Move From Institutional to Organic, lessons for pastors especially.
1. Shut down Wednesday evening "services." Instead have a Wednesday evening ministry meeting. Lots of teaching can happen then, go through a book like his or some others, as well as some of those four or five practices above. You can still start with singing, see above, and some worship but in an organic way, then move into the heart of the "meeting."
2. Shut down Sunday morning "services" that meet all together in one place. Meet in homes, no more than twenty in a group, based on geography. Their new church. They will do the practices above.
No designated facilitators for these meetings.
3. Once you are going, invite an experienced church planter to hold weekend conferences to help you envision your next steps and stages and review the transformation. This networker will be a designated leader, but she will not be staying in the group as a part of it. These people will probably not be paid, or just for expenses.

We will be coming back to these simple but transformational steps.

1 comment:

Christy said...

Thanks, Ron. These are both insightful and helpful points to remember!