I recently read an article by a recognised Christian leader who definitely believes it is. His article made me think. At my age I sure don’t want to spend my energies into something that is a temporary fad. Do you? The writer quotes examples from methods that Charles Finney, Dwight L. Moody and previous generations used and are no longer valid. I too could give examples of activities that I have seen (and some been involved in) that haven’t lasted. Here’s a sample:
The Jesus (Hippie) Revival
The Charismatic Move
The Toronto Blessing
Billy Graham style Evangelistic Meetings
Church Growth Seminars
I’m not saying these were all wrong. But we have to admit they’re not current today. So, should we lump simple/organic churches (SOCs) into the same box? My answer is NO! And here’s some reasons for my take on this issue.
They are Biblical. If the New Testament is to be our example of church life, then we need to seriously take notice of this undeniable evidence. Their gatherings were spontaneous, mostly in homes (though attended Synagogues to witness for Jesus) and participatory, 1 Cor.14:26. Also, Acts 2:46; Rom. 16; Col. 4:15; Phm. 2; 1 Jn. 10 (NLT)
They were/are Effective. Alan Hirsch estimates that by the year 100 AD, the NT Church was 25,000 strong. By 310, this temple-less, altar-less, clergy (as we know it)-less, tithing-less church had 25,000,000 genuine followers. Today we have the example of China’s and India’s phenomenal SOC growth. And there are positive signs in the Western world too. George Barna quotes, “9% of American Christians worship outside of ‘normal’ church buildings and structures.” Reports from Europe detail young people meeting in the same manner.
They were/are Attractive. Obviously people in NT times were attracted to this Good News that was free of the religious trappings of the harsh and legal Scribes and Pharisees. I was once scoffed at by a church elder for my involvement with a SOC. But I have always had a positive response from non-church folk when describing how and where we meet. Brook Warner, www.2ndcitystudios.com, has an insightful article titled, “Cowboys and Aliens: Capturing the Digital Natives.” (See NZ Baptist, Dec. 2012, p. 13). He goes to some length to explain why traditional, pulpit centred church is so ‘foreign’ to our “net generation.” “...their brains are wired for participation, involvement, not for the “talking head, ‘sage on the stage’ monologue model, (we need to) look for more dialogue models.” But can we change to reach this generation that will be here long after many of us aren’t!
They were/are easily reproducible. Neil Cole points out that the more simple the structure, the more easy it is to reproduce. Because SOCs don’t need highly trained practioners, buildings, heaps of money, paid staff, denominational permission and entertaining preachers, reproduction isn’t too complicated. All we need (at the start) is an understanding of and obedience to Jesus’ instructions in Matt. 10:5-15 and Luke 10:1-20, plus a broad kingdom vision.
At my age (80th year) I’m only interested in putting my time and energies into that which will be effective in bringing lost people into the kingdom of God. I know that SOCs are far from perfect, but I believe this new (ancient) phenomena that is being birthed around the world will produce the end-time harvest we all long to see.
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