The Dirt on Organic

I have an article published in Leadership Journal’s Spring 2010 issue, titled The Dirt on Organic.  Although much more can always be said, this article is my best condensed version of the highs and lows of my time spent planting organic churches.

If you can’t get your hands on the print copy, they just released it online here.

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13 responses to “The Dirt on Organic

  1. Brian: read your article in Leadership. Can’t say that that’s the impression I had of “Root 48” or that I agree (in retrospect of course) that the issues listed were the un-doing of it all–of course, I wasn’t in on “leadership” and really only committed to helping out/keeping it going/serving/whatever you want to call it until you headed to NY (and I should note that I wasn’t really a Christian until after you headed to NY wither). Having now worked in a church and seen what that’s all about: I’ll more than gladly take “messy, organic, and real” over “organized, religious, and traditionally nonsensical largely just for the sake of making people feel comfortable (under the guise of being a Christian ‘church’ despite the lack of following the majority of what the Bible reveals as how we ought to be a ‘church’)” any day! Also, I can’t help but think that if the lot of us (and by us I mean the small crew of us who still hang regularly from the Riverwest house) were where we are @ now (spiritually speaking), it would still be going, growing, and multiplying … Personally, I’m ready for Round 2, 3, and 100, so be on the look out for that …

  2. Brian: Thanks for sharing your joys & struggles with ‘organic church’. My pastor forwarded the link to a bunch of us who were there when we started our small church 5 years ago… Felt like our experiences paralleled yours in many ways, even though we are not a house church. We still struggle with the consumer-church, professional-christian messiness of a small-group, authentic-life kind of body. Hope & pray that the memories of the experience are filled mostly with joy for you.
    Maybe next time you are in Honolulu, you can pop by our place (smile) -em

  3. Brian, congratulations on the feature in Leadership and the well-written article. I appreciated the honesty with which you reflected on your experience. As I read the article, I wondered what folks involved with Root 48 thought of what you wrote, so it was helpful to read Andy’s comments. I think that there must be a way to develop organic house churches without getting hung up on the need for a staff role that is fully funded, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

  4. Em, if you’re in Honolulu, I’ll be there next week.

    Andy, I sure hope the article didn’t come across harsh. To this day, I love you guys like no other. It’s also good to hear you still have a heart for stuff like this! I know I sure do.

  5. Matt,

    I think there may be angles on pulling of house/organic churches without specific staff funding.

    Bi-vocational is one of the options, but it looks like suicide if you stretch it out too long. Haghlter and Smay (Authors of Tangible Kingdom) encourage this, but also dread it.

    A second option is to put organic planting under the umbrella of a traditional church who’s willing to pursue any and every campus/planting multiplication angle possible. Community Christian Church & New Thing, as well as Francis Chan’s Church is onto this, but I’m unaware of what traction it’s taken.

    At the end of the day, time is needed much more than money. Unfortunately however, normal scenarios in our context typically require money to free up the time.

  6. Brian,
    Have you read Frank Viola’s “Finding Organic Church”? It’s more of a comprehensive look at how to start and maintain a health Organic Church.

  7. Michael,

    I’ve read one of Viola’s books, and a handful of his articles as well. Overall, I didn’t really resonate with his philosophy of ministry. It looks to me that he’s aiming at church renewal, which is great, but my heart is more set on a city reaching movement.

  8. Brian, great article and some great insights. I like it because you lived it and wrestled with it. As Ed Stetzer often states, “church planting is not one-size-fits-all.”
    It takes different models, different approaches, etc. But we are all after the same goal…to make disciples. The important thing, IMO, is to be the body of Christ in the community (missional/incarnational) God has placed you in. Contextualization is fundamental. Some people within a community may need the smaller, more intimate setting that a house church provides, while others may do well in a larger setting. Some people have deeper issues that need one on one or smaller group attention. God gives those whom He calls the gifts to carry out the work He has called them to. For me, I seem to thrive in a smaller group setting, focusing on people with deeper needs. Other pastors/church planters do well with larger groups and are gifted administrators. Important thing is to know your calling, embrace it and give God the glory. Just like talents…He gives some just a few, while others He gives a few more, based on their gifts

  9. Thanks Dave. I certainly hope that various gifts, and various approaches, results in reaching various people. I strong motivation for my run at organic churches was to reach those that hadn’t resonated with more established models.

  10. Brian,

    I appreciate you post and authenticity concerning the messy struggles that organic church involves. While I disagree with a number of things, I realize it’s all perspective and relative depending on the vantage point. I respect that we can have different views. One of the big questions I have is help in understanding the “Professional Guarantee”. It doesn’t surprise me at all that people would think we’re asking too much of them when we ask them to take responsibility for being an active part of a believers spiritual journey. I deal with that in ministry every day. However, it saddens me to think that some have lost hope that this reality can exist.

    I would hope in a organic setting a new way of life would lead people to have more time, energy and desire to walk beside others on their spiritual journey. I’d be interested to know what efforts you took to lead your church to a more simplistic way of life. I have seen when people begin to simplify life itself (less concern for work status, limiting organized sports, fewer organized “church events”, etc) that people have more time to share life which IS discipleship of others.

    I’m just not sure why you felt lead to have separate classes for Systematic Theology. Again, I don’t know your context and I’m sure that has a LOT to do with it.

    I’m getting paid by a church organization now, so understand the question I’m asking could put me out of a job. But as I am growing in my home-based community I’m seeing less need for 1 paid professional for every 50-150 people.

  11. Matt,

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    My experience in organic churches made me face the tension between the ideal and real. I would have liked to try things wholesale organic, but my experience indicated that people weren’t ready – that I was too organic too quick. My philosophy of ministry would prefer to settle for slow increments in the right direction. I worry that holding too tightly to an ideal leads to a lot of talk and no show.

    We did “organic church,” but admittedly, did not do “organic life.” It may have been nice. Sorry I don’t have any stories to offer you in this regard.

    It wasn’t so much that we had a separate class for Systematic Theolgoy, it’s that we had a separate venue for Leadership Development, and Systematic Theology was a part of it. Although I’m eager to release and educated everyone’s gifting, I still think it’s pretty Biblical to distinguish leaders from non.

    I’d like to see a day where there’s no need for paid professionals in house churches. If the “ideal,” as we’ve been discussing it, comes true, I believe we could get to this point over time.

    All in all, my article was intended to show that some non-organic concessions may set-up bigger organic gains in the long run.

    I’d love to hear more about God’s draws and experiences for you with organic churches.

  12. Brian,
    I’ve had a chance to read your article and while I have my own opinions I am blessed by your work and prayers and honesty!

    My only thought is on the ‘small’ amount of work we do. Jesus really didn’t accomplish very much at all while on earth. Nothing really significant by today’s standards and wouldn’t even have an article reaching people like you have. Eugene Peterson has an AWESOME introduction in his “The Jesus Way” thaat is priceless and addresses our desire to count, to do soething ‘Big,’ etc.

    I would encourage you to consider that you may ALREADY have done greater works than Christ in ways that you will never see or know, but equal multiplication rather than simple addition, within the movements you were a part of.

    Blessings. truly. And thanks.

  13. Mark, your words are very encouraging. Thank you.

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