30 January 2012

Organic church life

Alan Knox uses the term 'organic church life'. There's a certain flowing, difficult to pin down, deep life about church that is well described by the term 'organic'. When we share this life we are sharing Christ himself as well as sharing ourselves.

A bejewelled networkAlan Knox gives some thought to the question 'Why is it so difficult to find organic church life?' and I very much like his answer. It's closely related to my recent post 'Circles of friends'.

Alan decides to use the term 'organic church life' rather than the more usual 'organic church', and his reasons are very revealing.
When I write about “organic church life,” I’m not talking about a certain church gathering, or a certain type of meeting, or a certain group of believers, or a certain method of organizing (or not organizing). Instead, I’m talking about believers sharing their lives with one another as they also share life in Jesus Christ.
I simply could not agree more! And I could not express it better.

Yet our minds are so anxious to organise and structure everything that we overlook organic church life in our rush to find something organisational in its place. We have insecurities that seem best met by plenty of structure and tradition and hierarchy. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but they are not where the life is. They have served us well in society and civil government, but they do not serve us well in finding and experiencing organic church life.

Structure is required as human life grows in scale. Very little structure is needed by three small children at play (though it's there if you look for it). A great deal is necessary to manage a large company, a big orchestra, or a nation.

Structure, tradition and hierarchy are useful tools for running large organisations, but in the day to day life of a family freedom, spontaneity and shared responsibility are much more appropriate. So too with organic church life. And that is why it's so hard to find even though it may be there right under our noses. Perhaps the truth is that it's not really hard to find, just hard to recognise until you get your eye in. And then you'll notice it everywhere.

But on the larger scale of the church worldwide, structure, tradition and hierarchy become necessary - right?

Wrong! Jesus said, 'I will build my church'. If we each focus on organic church life amongst our own circle of friends we can (and should) leave the rest to Jesus. He is the only one who knows how to do the job properly, only he can properly integrate our overlapping circles into the bejewelled network of networks structure of his design.


  1. I think organisation can be really helpful especially when a church gets bigger. But I like what he said about sharing life in Jesus Christ. That's what I love about our small home groups, that it encourages that so much.
    I don't know if you know, but I have started a weekly link up on Fridays for Christian bloggers in the UK to link to posts they have written recently about their faith that might encourage others. I'd love you to link up if you'd like to.

  2. Thanks Rhoda, I'll take a look at the link up for sure.

    We're on the same page with small groups. My wife, Donna, helps to run a small group as part of Open Door here in St Neots. Although I'm not a member of Open Door, I am a member of the small group. And it has exactly that sense of life together in Christ.

    I meet with various other people during the week too, usually in homes. And these little groups are also expressions of church and have the same sense of family about them.

  3. Hi again Rhoda, I hope you come back to read this comment. I've added links to your article and to the link code. Is that how you wanted it done? Let me know if you want me to make any changes. (You can email me - chris@scilla.org.uk - if you want discuss it off the blog.)

  4. Hi Chris, yes I do love the sense of family about the small groups! When I think that heaven will be full of fellowship like that, and worship, I can't wait! The link you added was great - thanks for joining in! I feel like UK Christian bloggers need a bit of fellowship when I look at the US ones and how many there are and how they all know each other :)

  5. Two more thoughts, Rhoda.

    Is it possible for you to add one of your own articles to the Linky Tools list? That way you'd have people visiting your blog from each of the others.

    And for general discussion by anyone reading this. There seem to be very few UK men blogging about Jesus. Why? Or is this just a false impression I'm getting? Is there anything we can do to encourage more to join in?



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