05 March 2009

Report from Chepstow

We gathered from a wide area to join Mark and Mandy Cutliffe at the Bulwark Community Centre in Chepstow on 28th February. Between them they had organised 'Breathing Space', The Bulwark Community Centrea simple program that gave us all a chance to mingle for a prolonged period over coffee, share a meal, and then settle to an afternoon of interesting and challenging discussion.

Time to meet - It was great to have ample time to meet and chat informally. Often when we meet the program is so full that we struggle to get to know one another in brief interludes between packed sessions.

The video - In the afternoon session we watched the 'Church Planting Movement' video and then moved into a discussion on 'organic church'.

You can watch the video for yourself below. It focuses on rapid, multiplicative growth, you can learn more about this from the International Mission Board's website.



Some questions and answers - Mark encouraged us to ask questions about 'organic church', he wrote five of these at the top of sheets on a flipchart Chatting over a coffeeand then we set about answering our own questions. Although we didn't have time to consider all the questions the process did help me to think more deeply about the topic. It was a very useful afternoon.

There are two caveats as you read the list. It's not exactly what was on the flip charts because it's based on what I scribbled down at the time. And some of the points may not make sense unless you were there for the discussion. Even so, I hope they will provoke useful thoughts as you read (and perhaps pray) your way through them.
  1. What is an organic church?
    • A living organism
    • An organism, not an organisation
    • DNA, constituents, what would happen if you grew a tomato in a rigid box?*
    • Not contaminated by anything man-made
    • Growing, changing, having fruit

  2. How have organic churches started?**
    • By the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit
    • Because of persecution
    • As a result of relationships
    • Hunger for 'something more'
    • A reaction to disappointment with existing churches

  3. What on earth are we doing?
    • Why do we need another expression of church?
    • One size fits all
    • Is it sustainable long term?

  4. How do we define success?
    • To produce successful offspring that can reproduce
    • Helping people follow Jesus
    • What has God told you to do?
    • Walk with God
    • What has he called you to do?
    • Who has he called you to be?

Notes
* The tomato in a box refers to a thought we had that the tomato plant's DNA controls the shape, colour, flavour and other characteristics of the fruit it bears. But if you put a rigid box around the small fruit as it grows, although the flavour and colour would remain unchanged, the mature fruit could never be the intended shape.

There's a parallel with the church where the DNA of Christ controls much, but our artificial constraints can affect the shape of its expression. Think about that!

** This is really about gathering together because we're excited about Jesus.

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