Myth #2 – Organic Church is a New Movement
This is a very popular misconception about organic church life. Many people think that because they have never heard of this before, it must be a new thing or even, a new movement of some kind. Actually, it’s the oldest “kind” of church there is. When we use the term “organic church” we only do that to differentiate between that which is based on the eternal purpose of God and the life of His Son flowing through His people, and that which is based upon man’s system of religion. Man’s system of religion is based upon man’s ideas and methods and not upon the divine life of God in Christ. This system is often referred to as the institutional church. The New Testament reveals to us the life and nature of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and we can see by reading it with open hearts and minds that this church is definitely not institutional, but rather organic. What we mean by the term “organic” is something that is based upon life and not man made mechanism.
So we can see by the scriptures that God’s church is something that is founded upon none other than Jesus Christ Himself and not all of man’s ideas about Him. So it’s very clear by these definitions that actually the new movement is the institutional church itself, not the organic church. The organic church is the attempt of modern day believers to return to their “roots” in primitive Christianity. These “roots”, of course, are nothing new, but rather a return to something very ancient. In organic church we could even say that we have a three-fold witness.
The Three-fold Witness
1.) The Scriptures Themselves
As stated above, the New Testament is very clear about the nature and life of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is an organism, not an organization. It is the embodiment of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, not a collection of doctrines and theology. It is the New Creation, the New Man, the New Israel, and the Image of God, not a reflection of the old nature in man. It is a Bride, a Body, a living Temple, a Vine with Branches, a Shepherd and His Sheep, a Family, etc. All of these being organic images, not mechanical.
Things started getting out of whack in the church during the second and third centuries. But when that started to happen, God immediately began to raise up groups of believers who would continue the testimony of His true Church. As early as the third century there were groups who stood outside of the institutional system of man’s religion. Many of these groups were given names by their persecutors such as: Pricillians, Paulicans, Bogomils, Waldenses, Albigenses, Lollards, Hussites, United Brethren, Anabaptists, Pietists, Plymouth Brethren, Little Flock, etc. All of these groups throughout history were an attempt to return to the purity and organic life of the early church. You can read about their history in such books as The Pilgrim Church by Broadbent and The Torch of the Testimony by Kennedy.
3.) Our Own Experiences
Not only do we have the testimony of the New Testament church and the history of the groups who stood outside the system, we also have our own experience. My co-workers and I have been pursuing, living in, and planting organic churches for the last 23 years or so. We also know others who have gone before us and a few of them are still alive, though they are very old.
We have (and continue to) learn from all three of these “witnesses” to organic church life. As you can see, this is definitely not something new. Also, it is not a movement. It is simply God’s eternal purpose being fleshed out in this world. It is a move of God, but it is the same move and purpose that God has always had since before creation, that is, to make His Son the All in all and the sum of all things. See Ephesians 1 & 3 and Colossians 1.