the weblog of Alan Knox

In Conversation with Frank Viola

Posted by on Dec 15, 2008 in blog links, edification, gathering | 20 comments

Not long ago, I reviewed Frank Viola’s latest book Reimagining Church (see my post “Reimagining Church“). Before I finished the book, and before I wrote the review, Frank prompted me several times to finish it and review it. He also answered some questions that I had about the book. Finally, I asked if I could interview him, and he agreed. While I was not able to sit down and talk with Frank, I did send him some questions via email, to which he graciously responded. Here are my questions and his responses:

1. Why did you decide to start writing, and why the topic of the church?

From the human point of view, it was purely accidental. But God has chosen to breathe on it.

When I was in my 20s, I met with a group of Christians in a home without a pastor. It was largely an unintentional experiment for us. I describe it a spontaneous burst of organic church life. We wanted to know if it was possible for Jesus Christ to lead His church in our day just as he did in Century One – without a human head (pastor, minister, priest, etc.). We wanted to know if it was possible for every member to function under Christ’s Leadership in a meeting without someone leading, directing, or even facilitating. We wanted to know if a church could make decisions together without someone telling us what to do.

We came to these questions gradually. And in time, we discovered that all of these things were not only possible, but they were built into the very DNA of the body of Christ. To quote Major Ian Thomas, the church’s DNA is the “Divine Nature from Above.” Jesus Christ lives in the church. The church contains His life, His Divine nature. Therefore, if a group of Christians learn to live by Christ together, by His life, the DNA of the church will begin operating. We realized that this concept (and experience) was so foreign to most Christians (let alone to us) that we had an awfully hard time explaining it to those who had inquired about what we were doing and why.

In the late 90s, I began hosting a bulletin board discussion (the nascent prelude to the Internet). The subject was Rethinking the Practice of the Early Church. Bi-weekly, I would post an article on a different aspect of the church’s practice. For instance, one week I’d post a piece on the first-century church meeting. Another week I’d write about how the early Christians had the Lord’s Supper. Another week I’d discuss the leadership of the church. I was writing about my experience of the church as well as what I understood the New Testament to teach about it.

People read the articles and then responded. The response was amazing. It showed me that there was a real hunger for looking at the church in a fresh light and re-examining Scripture on the subject. Not long afterwards, people would ask me for copies of the articles. So I would staple them together and mail them out. At the same time, many people were asking me and the others in our fellowship why we didn’t have a building, a pastor, a liturgy, etc. (Some of these people looked at us as if we were from Planet 10 when they found out that we didn’t have these things.) As a result, a friend suggested that I put all the articles I had written for the bulletin board into a book. This way we could give copies to people who asked us what in the cat’s hair we were doing!

The idea of writing a book had never occurred to me before that point. And publishers never crossed my mind. When I investigated how much it would cost to print a book myself, I was shocked to find that one had to print at least 1,000 copies in order to get a decent rate. My immediate reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding me. What am I going to do with 950 copies of this book?” You see, I could only envision 50 people wanting to read it.

Well, I was wrong. Within months, the books were gone due to popular demand. (Word of mouth is one mighty phenomenon.)

In 2001, a particular publisher showed interest in publishing my books, but I declined. Then in 2004, another publisher showed interest. After much prayer and council from others, I felt that it would be wiser to have a publisher publish my work rather than continuing to self-publish. The reason being that the message would get out to a much wider audience. That has proven to be the case.

2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Oreo cookie, hands down and walking out. I particularly like it in a shake, the kind that Denny’s makes. Those are hard to resist.

3. What are some of the difficulties involved in “organic church”?

Everybody’s normal until you get to know them (as the title of one book puts it). Organic church life involves close-knit community.

We humans are all deeply marred souls. We routinely underestimate the damage that the Fall has inflicted on us. For this reason, a shared life in Christ is difficult. But therein lies the genius of God. It’s in such an environment that living stones are chiseled, cut, and shaped so they can be “built together” to form the Lord’s house.

Open up the New Testament epistles and you will see all the problems that God’s people encounter when they live in organic church life. The beautiful thing is that contained within those epistles, we have the remedies for those problems. As I’ve said many times, organic church life is a wedding of glory and gore. It’s much easier to sit in a pew once or twice a week, listen to a sermon, and go home to live an individual Christian life. But God’s best and highest is never the easiest route to take.

At this point, let me say a few words about the term “organic church.” The word is in vogue today. Thus it’s being used (and co-opted) to describe a number of different types of churches, many of which are vastly different in structure, expression, and mission. I’ve spoken about this here. In my book “Reimagining Church,” I present a theology of organic church life (to borrow Len Sweet’s description of the book). That theology is rooted in the Triune God, His eternal purpose, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and it’s exemplified by my experience over the last twenty-one years.

Because “organic church” – along with “missional church,” “house church,” “emerging church,” and “simple church” – are being used in an assortment of different ways today (with some folks lumping them all together!), it’s created massive confusion among Christians who are interested in God’s mission for the body of Christ.

Let me give you one recent example. Dan Kimball recently wrote a piece where he challenged the missional church movement (for lack of a better term). In it, he lumped together missional churches and house churches. In the brief exchanges I’ve had with Dan, he lumps organic churches with house churches (which I do not).

Another author responded to Dan’s piece, and he lumped together missional churches with organic churches (as if they were the same) but drew a distinction between missional/organic churches and house churches. Yet another author responded and redefined missional church from the way that Kimball was using it, and expressed concern at how the word “missional” is being misused and redefined by different people. Add to that, some authors are saying that missional church, house church, organic church, and simple church are all the same thing.

Are you confused yet?

Throw the word “emerging church” in the mix and you’ve got popcorn.

I think it would be helpful, therefore, if those who write and speak on these subjects would first define these terms clearly so that readers will understand how they’re using them. And then proceed. The simple reason is that there’s no universal definition or understanding of any of these terms. So using them without definition often confuses more than clarifies.

4. Do you have a prediction or a favorite in the Bowl Championship Series football Game between Oklahoma and Florida?

As for a prediction, I haven’t the foggiest idea. As for a favorite, I’m going to say Florida lest my Gainesville neighbors roast me over a slow spit.

5. If the church meets in a more open and participatory way where every believer is given an opportunity to serve through their spiritual gifts, how should the church deal with people who always have something to say and people who never have something to say?

This is the classic problem of the under-functioners vs. the over-functioners. When a similar problem was surfacing in the church in Corinth, the believers had an extra-local worker with experience to give them some direction and instruction about this. See Paul’s instructions to them in 1 Corinthians 14.

The organic churches that I’m in fellowship with have the input of extra-local workers who have experience in meeting under the headship of Christ. These workers understand the necessary dynamics that go along with equipping the over-participators to push back a bit and the under-participators to function more. My friend Milt Rodriguez recently wrote an excellent article on this very subject. Your readers can check it out here: http://frankviola.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/guest-article-lions-set-free/

6. When you offer someone a soft drink at your house, do you ask them if they want a soda, a pop, or a Coke?

Well, we don’t have soft drinks at the house. But I grew up in New York, and we called it soda.

7. Scripture often describes the church in family language. Do you think the church is a literal family or a figurative family? What are the implications?

I take it as a spiritual reality. Christians aren’t joined by blood. We are instead joined by Divine life. As Peter says, we are “partakers of the Divine nature.” God has become our Father (literally), and all of His children have become our brethren and sistren. :) That’s not “positional truth.” It’s quite real.

8. Do you prefer coffee or tea? How do you take it?

I love the smell of coffee, but I hate the taste. So if you were to hand me a cup of coffee, I would grab tons of creamer and sweeteners to kill the taste. I’ve always wished I could drink it black, but I just can’t.

I enjoy tea. The real stuff. A friend turned me on to organic teas and gave me a stainless steal strainer, a cast iron pot, and little cups that look like they came off the boat that Paul of Tarsus almost drowned in on his way to Rome. Drinking tea mixed with fellowship in Christ – there’s nothing quite like it. Ask my friend Alan Levine (props and shout-outs to Alan :) )!

9. What role do you think the university/seminary and scholar should play in the church?

Scholars should be tied to a chair with duct tape wrapped around their mouths during open-participatory church meetings.

That’s a joke, folks. :)

You must understand, I live a world that’s outside of mainstream Christianity. We meet in a very organic way. What many folks would call “laymen” are our leaders.

I’ll give you a few examples from real life. The seminary-trained folks that I know who have come into a healthy experience of organic church life admitted their lack of experience and knowledge (experiential) of Jesus Christ when they have encountered the churches of this type.

Thus what they did for a number of months was detox. (The same is true for clergymen who come into such expressions of the church.) After a while of learning how to be a normal human being . . . a brother among other brothers and sisters (the folks I’m thinking of have all been men), they began to learn to use their giftings (usually teaching) to minister LIFE instead of dead knowledge. But that typically takes some time and a lot of un-learning.

For a context to the above, see Chapter 10 of my book Pagan Christianity where I discuss what I believe to be some of the shortcomings of the typical seminary education and model, and the kind of fruit it produces, both good and not so good.
Keep in mind that the early Christian church which shook the Roman Empire to its foundations was a “lay led” movement (to use our modern vernacular). Consider the education of the twelve men that Jesus trained as well. It’s a very different way of looking at things.

Add to that, the people I’ve known in my life who knew the Lord the deepest were people who didn’t have a seminary education. The same is true for some of the greatest people in church history. Not that there’s anything wrong with a seminary education (to borrow from Jerry Seinfeld). But it’s largely overrated, I believe. One of the major flaws is that academic knowledge is often regarded as the equivalent of spiritual knowledge and experience.

10. What’s the last movie that you watched? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

The last film I saw is one of my favorites of all time. It’s called The Castle. It’s a first-class hoot. The comedy is brilliant. My favorite line from the film: “It’s the vibe of the thing.”

11. If you were to die tomorrow, what’s the one thing that you’d want your readers to take from your life and your books?

That the Lord Jesus Christ can be known deeply and profoundly, that He is alive enough to be the practical and functional Head of His own church (in local expression), that we can live by His indwelling life and express Him together in ways that most of us have never dreamed, and that God’s eternal purpose and grand mission is bound up with local Christian communities that express the headship of Jesus Christ in their cities. And that all of the above happens in community. It’s not an individual proposition or endeavor.

12. Can you tell my readers something about HouseChurchResource.org?

Yes, this is a site that offers many resources for people who are interested in organic church life. Note that organic church church and house church are not the same thing. Some house churches are organic, while others are not. And some organic churches use buildings. Nonetheless, those in the house church movement seem most interested in organic church life and most organic churches meet in homes for most of their gatherings, hence the name of the site.

Some of my friends created this site, and I understand that it generates enormous traffic. I believe it’s unique in that it offers the following:

  • An ex-pastors’ page that is designed to help conflicted pastors leave the clergy and find life and employment outside of it.
  • Testimonials of ex-pastors who left the clergy system and why.
  • A form designed to connect those who are seeking organic church life.
  • An opportunity to receive the help and input of extra-local workers who plant and equip organic churches.
  • Free articles on body life, spiritual formation, and God’s mission.
  • Free downloadable audios (which I understand is coming soon).
  • A place to trade links with other similar sites.
  • Information on upcoming events, conferences, and seminars.
  • Useful books on God’s mission, spiritual formation, and organic church life.
  • A free e-newsletter that goes out periodically with updates, etc.

Thank you, Frank, for allowing me to interview you! By the way, Frank blogs at “Reimagining Church: The Blog of Frank Viola“. I’ll post my response to Frank’s answers within a day or two.


20 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-15-2008

    Alan,

    Thanks for sharing this interview with us… and thank you Frank for allowing Alan to interview you.

    I really appreciated question/answer #9. Being a seminary educated person… and generally a black/white guy. I am still in the “detox” process. I’ve only been a Christian for 5 years and have been detoxing for 2!

    Thanks again!

    God Speed,
    Lew

  2. 12-15-2008

    I would think that response to #9 wold garner the most questions. When he says: “After a while of learning how to be a normal human being . . . a brother among other brothers and sisters (the folks I’m thinking of have all been men), they began to learn to use their giftings (usually teaching) to minister LIFE instead of dead knowledge”, I wonder what he means by dead knowledge? All theology? Just high level seminary training? I think back on some of the great books I have read that are chock full of theology, and they certainly are not dead knowledge. I wonder if there is some clarification to that in his books?

  3. 12-15-2008

    Lew,

    Thanks for the comment and for linking to the interview. Thank you for commenting about question #9 given your seminary education. I also agree than seminaries can tend to blur the distinction between knowledge/education and maturity.

    Arthur,

    I’ll talk about Frank’s answer in detail on Wednesday, but for now, I would say that “dead theology” is knowledge about God without knowledege of God himself.

    -Alan

  4. 12-16-2008

    An interesting interview, but I think there are some real problems with what he is saying. Not in that he is wrong but rather incomplete.

    His observations of the early church are, to say the least, questionable. It is easy to say that ordination is bogus or that the early church was led by laity, but historically it is not clear that those things are true. In fact it is pretty clear that some kind of ordination was present in the NT period, ie, be careful on whom you lay hands. Or in Acts where the deacons are appointed for one specific sort of ministry, etc. Now if he wants to say that a certain ch today does not have an appropriate theology of ordination that is one thing, but to say flat out that the early church was led by laity is just wrong.

    He also seems to equate ordination and a seminary education. Wrong again. Seminaries weren’t popular until the Reformation, it was in fact the Reformation that forced the Catholics to start seminaries all over the places (Council of Trent). Before that their leadership formation was much more…uh, organic. You went and lived with a priest and watched him minister.

    The early church had two main influences, the local Jewish synagogue influence was indeed non-hierarchical, but that is not the whole story, or not even the main part of the story. The pagan cult was (guess what) contextualized in non-Jewish areas. Paul went in and instead of teaching gentiles how Jews worshiped, he Christianized their pagan worship, just what you would expect. And that was an egalitarian, we’re-all-priests, sort of thing at all. And in the long run, after the Jews expulsed the messianic Jews from the synagogues (late 1st C.), that became the dominant tradition. How can this author not know these things?

    Tertullian’s Carthage in 200 AD has elders, deacons, and a bishop. The same is even more pronounced in Ignatius’ Antioch at an even earlier point. Indeed, in Carthage, whose house was the house church in? The bishop’s. Oh yeah, and they celebrated communion in a graveyard over the tombs of dead Christians. I’m guessing he does not address that in his book on the organic church.

    That having been said, good read. It is easier to just create an early church in your own image than it is to do hard scholarly work and genuinely engage the early church with all of its strangeness and wonderfulness.

    Sincerely,

    Abu Daoud

  5. 12-16-2008

    “Reimagining Church” is a good read. I think it would be interesting to observe and/or be part of the kind of church he imagines.

    We tried several groups that described themselves as organic house churches, and found that they were self-centered. They seemed to be very much into Jesus, but also very much into each other. They tend to spend lots of time with each other, and little with the poor, needy, homeless, etc.

    Yes, Jesus should be running the meeting. I totally agree. The part I have trouble with: If Jesus is totally in charge, why do these folks just want to sit around on their rear ends singing, praising and so on, but Jesus seldom sends them out to care for the prisoners, poor, widows, lonely and so on?

    They love to get together to eat, but it’s the group. If they invite someone, it is their friends – not people who are hungry and can’t invite them back. Frank and his books “Pagan Christianity” and “Reimagining Church” and the groups we’ve seen seem to pretty much miss these issues.

  6. 12-16-2008

    Alan,

    I’ve read all of Frank’s books, except the one you have reviewed. It seems, in both your review and interview, that Frank has softened some of his thoughts towards the I.C.

    My concern is that, as I read the blogs, etc. of those who have, quite rightly, picked up on the interpersonal relationships with one another, and with serving others, that many have become so absorbed in the “nice feeling” of “loving and serving”, which is a part of the gregariousness of normal unsaved human beings, that the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ simply doesn’t come into focus.

    Some would appear to be simply secular service clubs, and some, an exercise in “navel gazing”, with the life changing, saving work of Christ mentioned little, if ever.

    I’m not suggesting that Frank’s writings reveal this attitude. They don’t!

    Surely the main reason for being a part of a healthy, New Testament group is to be ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, both in word and deed.

    As a much younger man,I’ve been a part of similar moves to change waht we perceive to be a failure within the I.C.(you know what I think of it) within an evangelical denomination. Each time the movement developed a life which was centered on maintaining itself by making people disciples of that particular philosophy, rather than making disciples of Christ, who, before anything else, must be the recipients of new life in Christ.

    Am I being pernickety?

  7. 12-16-2008

    Abu Daoud,

    I don’t think Frank equates ordination with seminary, and I know that I don’t. Also, I don’t think that “laying on of hands” in Scripture is the same as ordination. Instead, “laying on of hands” seems to indicate recognition or association.

    Your other arguments (Ignatius, Tertullian, etc) were from church history. This is exactly Frank’s point. Many believers take their understanding of the church from various people in church history without considering Scripture. I agree that the church developed into an institutional organization soon after the NT documents were written. However, I do not think this is how the church is described in Scripture.

    Sam,

    Frank sent me this link in response to your comment: http://www.neueministry.com/2008/08/qa-with-frank-viola-does-the-church-care-about-the-poor/. I think you’ll see that he believes the church should care for the poor.

    Aussie John,

    If you read the interview at the link above, you’ll see that Frank also focuses on the headship of Christ. I agree that the church cannot become self-centered or self-focused.

    -Alan

  8. 12-17-2008

    Alan,

    Help me out.

    What are the distinctions between;

    1. Missional

    2. Organic

    3. Simple

    4. House

    This discussion would be helpful if the terms were clearer.

    Thanks Phillip

  9. 12-17-2008

    Alan,

    Thank you for the link to the Neue site. Franks’s comments are very interesting, and I am happy to have the Neue site address.

    Even though the house churches we tried described themselves as organic, they claimed no connection to Frank or groups related to him or his understanding of organic house churches. We have not seen one of those groups. Apparently those groups are different than the ones we have seen.

    We do not personally know anyone who has had a good experience with house church, although that does not mean that good groups do not exist. The people we know who have tried house churches have had experiences similar to ours. The two primary comments I have heard from them are:
    1) The house churches they have tried are very “cliqueish”. It is very difficult to break into the group unless you are a good friend with one of the group members and that person invites you, after the group has discussed whether or not to invite you (informally, of course, but nevertheless you are prescreened).
    2) Most of the house churches they have tried tend to emphasize one or more “gifts” that especially appeal to their group – tongues, prophecies, healing, etc.

  10. 12-17-2008

    Alan,

    I’m sorry if I was unclear in my comment. I did read the interview and appreciated it. Having read all of Frank’s books,except the one you reviewed, I certainly haven’t seen any neglect of Christ’s central place.

    My comment was meant to be general regarding some of what I have observed happening amongst those who have seen Frank’s writing as simply anti-institutional, and began to “do their own thing”.

    Again, sorry for any confusion.

  11. 12-17-2008

    Dear Alan:

    You said: Your other arguments (Ignatius, Tertullian, etc) were from church history. This is exactly Frank’s point. Many believers take their understanding of the church from various people in church history without considering Scripture. I agree that the church developed into an institutional organization soon after the NT documents were written. However, I do not think this is how the church is described in Scripture.

    But in the end you can’t (I suspect) have it both ways. If these messed up church leadership then they probably did not correctly discern which books were and weren’t inspired. That means the collection of books in the NT is wrong. Maybe Zwingli was right, and Revelation shouldn’t be in the NT. Maybe Luther was right and we should toss out James.

    To say that there was one church that belonged to the NT and was “biblical” and then another one (fifty or so years later) that was early but “unbiblical” cannot be justified in any way shape or form.

    The guys I have mentioned–Tertullian, Ignatius of Antioch–were the same guys who helped to determine what would be included in the NT and what would not.

  12. 12-18-2008

    Alan,

    The question you ask at the end is precisely what I have in mind. I do disagree with some of the positions popular with some of the church fathers. But it seems like a genuinely important question: if they could mess up so hugely on something so basic as how the church is run, then why should we think they got the canon right?

    Ultimately, if the organic model is correct then each congregation (or person?) should discern for itself what is and is not divinely inspired, right? That i fact was the at least in regional terms: the Roman church which was famously conservative did not use Hebrews or Revelation. Only after being influenced by the African Christians did they accept the apostolicity of these books.

    In any case, my point is to say that the people who discerned what would go into the NT lived their faith in a way that was profoundly alienated from the NT is, to put it nicely, problematic.

  13. 12-18-2008

    Abu Daoud,

    Yes, we can learn from the church father – both about the canon and about the church. But they cannot be our final source of understanding. I guess its a good thing that Jesus sent his Spirit after his ascension, otherwise we would not know where to turn at all.

    -Alan

  14. 12-18-2008

    Hi Alan,

    Yes, it is good the Spirit is sent. But what does that have to do with the NT canon? When did the Spirit give us the canon? How do we know that James is uniquely inspired and that 1 Clement is not (or at least, not in the same way)? How do you know that other than trusting the judgment of the church fathers and, specifically, the Synod of Rome in 382?

    Let’s just take the congregational, non-episcopal thinking to its logical conclusion: each congregation decides on its own what should in the NT canon. I don’t see how it can lead to any other conclusion. But I am enjoying this conversation, and while my writing may be pointed it is because I am trying to be brief, not snarky.

  15. 12-18-2008

    Abu Daoud,

    What does the Spirit have to do with the NT canon? The Spirit reveals God and truth to us, whether through Scripture or through other means. Even if we know exactly which books are part of the canon and if we know exactly what form the church should take, without the Spirit it is worthless.

    I would prefer the Spirit as leader of the church and designator of Scripture to a community much more than any episcopal form of govt or church council.

    By the way, I’m enjoying the conversation also. I didn’t think you were being “snarky” at all.

    -Alan

  16. 12-19-2008

    Hi Alan,

    >>Even if we know exactly which books are part of the canon and if we know exactly what form the church should take, without the Spirit it is worthless.

    I would agree, I think. I would put it differently though, without the spirit it cannot be a church. My conversion took place in Latin America when I was around 12 or 13. I had not been raised in the church at all and knew nothing about Christianity until that time. The church I was going to was meeting in a (refurbished) garage and when I look back I see that doctrinally it was fairly fundamentalist and narrow-minded theologically. But in spite of that the people really loved each other and me and that was something new to me. That only comes from the Spirit. Charity is a theological virtue (Aquinas) and thus cannot be imparted apart form God's grace.

    >>I would prefer the Spirit as leader of the church and designator of Scripture to a community much more than any episcopal form of govt or church council.

    So then you are saying that you are open to the Spirit leading congregations into new discernments of the NT canon. A congregation could genuinely make the claim after studying, say, 1 Clement (a fine and edifying writing, as you know), that it is in fact uniquely inspired, like 3 Peter or Jude.

    I am also thinking that you can certainly have episcopal government with home churches. But is that not the case with organic churches? I suppose not.

    I am also working on a PhD and I am also focusing on the ecclesia, though in the context of converts form Islam. Would be happy to be in touch with you by e-mail if you have the time: winterlightning [a+] safe-mail [D0T] net

    Salam.

    AD

  17. 12-19-2008

    Abu Daoud,

    I think the Holy Spirit would be consistent in regard to Scriptures, although he can certainly reveal himself among groups that accept differing canons. The presence of the Spirit is paramount.

    Yes, there are “house churches” with an episcopal leadership. I suppose it is possible for an organic church group to have one elder (bishop) for a span of time until others mature enough to be recognized as elders.

    I’ll send you an email.

    -Alan

  18. 12-19-2008

    Hi All,

    This conversation has resulted in my posting of a more complete expostulation of my thoughts at my blog; you (Alan) and your readers are invited to drop by and interact with me and my readers (who are mostly not baptists). And like the good book says, how good it is when brethren dwell together in peace in the blogosphere, for there is the blessing of God.

    Well, check it out HERE if you please.

  19. 1-15-2009

    Thanks, Alan, for this blog. I like your interviewing in that you ask intermittent questions that add a little spice and illumination into the personality of the interviewee. That’s great!

    Had I been you, I would have included the following questions that kind of flow with your style of questioning. If you know the answers by way of your association with Viola, please reply:

    * Why does he make mention of the emergent church movement (in other interviews) so much? I’m with him on his concept of what the ekklesia should be, but the emergents are known for being high on “seeker-sensitivity” and low on sound theology, thereby producing a bunch of fish, but unfed ones. If he associates with them, why?

    * What kind of strain (if any) has his move to organic church made on his wife and children?

    * What does he think of the Christian film industry?!

    * It seems that he doesn’t speak much about the “sound doctrine” reference we find in the NT. He also seems to downplay the importance of the preached word. My question, therefore, is what do organic church folks actually do when they gather? The reason I ask is because it appears a lot of unbiblical stuff would come out either by misinformed or new believers if they’re not consistently rooted in the Word (especially in a verse-by-verse, exegetical way). It would seem that if people aren’t getting a guided, regular diet of the Word, there would be a lot of room for out-of-context biblical ideas, eisegeting texts, and other kinds of error.

    Thanks!

  20. 1-15-2009

    Eve,

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the interview. I won’t presume to answer for Frank – perhaps he’ll wander back in and answer for himself. But, I’ll answer a couple of your questions:

    In Scripture, “sound teaching (doctrine)” seems to be associated with right living as well as right words (see Titus 2 especially).

    I think most organic churches – at least the ones that I’m familiar with – do not “downplay the importance of the preached word”. Instead, they encourage the expression of all spiritual gifts as God works. But, since the traditional church has downplayed all gifts except teaching, it looks like teaching has been downplayed in organic churches.

    Also, I’ve noticed that most organic churches make what I think is a scriptural distinction between proclamation (preaching) to unbelievers and teaching believers.

    -Alan