Myth #9 – Organic Churches Always Become Ingrown
Many people have the impression that all organic churches are only concerned with themselves and have no burden or vision for the poor or the lost. Now, I do admit that there are some who have fallen into this trap. In fact, I was part of such a group for a season. There was no apparent revelation for the heart of God concerning the poor, oppressed, and those who do not know Him. They became very ingrown like a stagnant pond where the water was not flowing out in any way. Let me say upfront that this attitude is very dangerous and will definitely become toxic and hinder the spiritual and numerical growth of the group.
Simply put, the Body of Christ is to express the Person of Christ. Just as your physical body expresses the life inside of it, You! So, the Body of Christ is to express the Person living inside, Jesus Christ Himself. This includes all aspects of His life, character, and mission.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Because of this He anointed Me to proclaim the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me” to heal the brokenhearted, “to proclaim remission to captives, and to the blind to see again,” to send away the ones being crushed, in remission, “to preach an acceptable year of the Lord.”
It is very apparent from this passage (and many many others) in the gospel that Jesus came to bring life and life abundantly (John 10:10). He came to minister to those who were sick, to the oppressed and downtrodden, to the sinners. God definitely has a heart for the poor and the lost. There is no question about this. So what is the problem?
The Problem is a Matter of Life
The problem is that many believers who leave the institutions swing the pendulum one of two ways. Either there is a total abandonment of anything that smacks of doing or serving the Lord, or there is a total swing into more doing and serving because the institutions are just not doing enough. There seems to be a dichotomy afoot here.
The Subjective Only Crowd
These are the folks who leave the institutions and just want to “be”, not “do”. They are “burned out” from doing good works and serving the Lord in the system. They want to get to know the Lord in a deeper way and discover what body life is all about. They want to stop doing and start knowing and being. Many are repulsed by anything that even looks like working for God in any way.
Now, I completely sympathize with this crowd, but only to a point. When I left the religious system I was burned out from so called ministry as well and I strongly desired to know the Lord in a deep way and to discover Him in His Church. I needed to “detox” from many of the mindsets and paradigms that went with being institutionalized. The problem comes in when people stay only in this place which is very natural for those who only have a understanding of the individual Christian life.
If you get together a bunch of believers who are in this place and put them into a living room and propose that they “do organic church” what can happen? They can now all “feed” one another in their subjective only mindset and never take that to it’s conclusion. When we see Christ for Who He truly is (Head and Body), and that the purpose of the Body is to express the life of the Head, something different happens! We will come back to that in a moment.
The Objective Only Crowd
This bunch leaves the institutions because they believe they have found a better way to fulfill the great commission and flesh out the heart of God for the lost and the poor. The subjective is usually totally ignored and its all about the good works and reaching people. These groups are usually extremely evangelistic and/or concerned with social action and taking the “church” to the streets to reach the people.
Now, of course, this is all true. The problem is in the dichotomy. But there IS a third way.
The Holistic View
These are not two mutually exclusive parts! They are both part of the whole. However, most groups outside of the religious system will gravitate to one way or the other depending upon their backgrounds and church experiences.
I believe the answer is to start with the subjective with a view to the objective. Beginnings are extremely important! The foundation of a group is everything and if that foundation is something other than Jesus Christ Himself than it will be off. And if the foundation is off, the whole building will be off. Our Center, Life, and Head must be the Person of Christ Himself. Of course, this includes everything that He is and does. But it primarily needs to start with the New Covenant. Something Paul called the Gospel.
” … to whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, who is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we announce, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man full-grown in Christ Jesus”
This “mystery” of Christ in you (you all) is what Paul announced. It was his gospel. This good news was a Person, the person of Jesus Christ. But it was this Person in a particular location: in you! This is where we must start or we will end up in doing good works with our own human effort and not by Christ. It’s not enough to do something for Christ, we must do things BY Christ! In other words, it must be Christ Himself doing those things in and through us.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.”
So we can see that we must start with the Person of Christ and learn to live by this Lord Who lives inside of us. This means a continual death to ourselves and our own lives by living in His life. Both death and resurrection must work in us continually. But this is not a life lived in isolation! It is a life lived within the context of His Body. So we are living by His indwelling life TOGETHER!
The result of this Life will be the holistic expression of Jesus Christ in and through His Body. This includes His heart for the Church to be a light to the nations. This includes His heart for the poor and oppressed. And if this expression is not happening, then there is something seriously wrong with the life of that group.
God wants the fullness of His Son to be expressed in His Body. That includes His character, His nature, His life, His mission, and His work.
” … and He “put all things under His feet” and gave Him to be Head over all things to the assembly, which is His body: the fullness of the One filling all things in all;”