In my post “People want real examples of organic church life,” I linked to a post by Dan at “Cerulean Sanctum” called “Is organic house church a myth?” In that post, Dan expressed his frustration at not being able to find “organic house church” in his city like he sees described in Frank Viola’s books.
In this post, I’m going to try to answer the question, “Why is it so difficult to find organic church life?” I need to point out a few things before I start. First, this post is not directly related to Dan’s post. That is, I am not responding to Dan’s search for organic house church. I do not know how he looked or who he talked with. So, this post will not be specifically about his search.
Second, I’m using the phrase “organic church life” instead of the phrases “organic church,” “house church,” or “simple church” or any combination. And, I’m using the phrase “organic church life” for a very specific reason. 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.
As we think about my second point, we can also begin to understand why this “organic church life” may be difficult to find. It is not a place, or an event, or even a group that we can point to. It is a way of life. There are people who meet together only in homes who share organic church life in Jesus Christ. There are also people who meet together only in homes who do not share organic church life. In the same way, people can meet in church buildings and share organic church life (or not).
A group may have a specific weekly meeting (or more than one) and share this kind of life in Christ. Or, they may not have a regular weekly meeting. Then again, a group may have a weekly meeting (or even meet together more often) and yet not share their lives with one another in Jesus Christ.
When these groups do get together, it is relational not structural. Thus, as the relationships change or the people involved change, then the group will change as well. It is fluid and dynamic.
The group that meets together today may be completely different than the group that met together last year (or month) and may be completely different than the group that will meet together next year (or month). This does not mean that the group collapsed or fizzled out or ended or anything else that we might use to describe the end of a more organized or structured group.
Also, even when a group such as this is sharing life together in our own neighborhood, we may never notice it. It can be hard to point to and even to distinguish from overlapping or tangential groups. There may not be a sign, a website, a corporation, a yellow pages entry, or any other traditional identifying marker.
These groups (if they are sharing life in Christ) will also be serving others, but that service may not be directed toward the person looking for a group such as this. So, while we can often recognize organic church life because the people are serving others together, their service may not always be readily apparent.
So, what do we do? We want to find organic church life, but it’s difficult to find (for the reasons listed above as well as many other reasons). Do we just give up? No.
We begin sharing our own lives (in Christ) with the people that God has already brought into our life. Some will push us away. Fine. We cannot control how other people respond to us. Others, however, will also be longing for this kind of fellowship in the Spirit. And, as we find these people, we begin to grow and serve and disciple and encourage and share and give and teach and eat and learn and admonish and pray and hope together.
This is organic church life. It is within us. And, we can share it with others.