On his website “Reimagining Church,” Frank Viola has published an interview with himself and Neil Cole. (See “Neil Cole & Frank Viola Discuss Missional Organic Church.”) I love the way they each define “church”:
Neil Cole: In CMA, we have defined church this way: The presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet. Church begins and ends with Jesus among us. All the typical ingredients listed to describe church were in the upper room in Acts chapter one but the church really began in Acts chapter two when only one other important ingredient was added: the Spirit of God showed up! God among us is what makes us any different from the Elks Club.
Frank Viola: Iâ€™ve been using the word â€œorganic churchâ€ or â€œorganic expression of the churchâ€ for over 16 years. And I give credit to T. Austin-Sparks for the phrase. For Sparks and I, an organic church is a group of Jesus followers who are discovering how to live by Divine life together and who are expressing that life in a corporate way… Consequently, when Godâ€™s people learn how to live by the indwelling life of Christ together, a certain expression of community life naturally emerges. So for me, the word â€œorganicâ€ has to do with life â€“ Godâ€™s life. The organic expression of the church comes up from the soil; itâ€™s not mechanical. While it has organization (or an expression) â€“ as all living organisms do â€“ the organization (or expression) comes about naturally from the life, not through human manipulation, religious ritual, or legalism.
The entire interview is very good. You should read it.