Yep, I’ve been reading up some on the organic church movement as well as perusing that ever dependable source of indisputable facts on the internet – the Blogsphere & Facebook! Truth be told, there is a lot that really attracts me about more organic church forms: flatter leadership models, taking the Lord’s Supper seriously as a covenant memorial meal, and doing more than just paying lip-service to the idea of the church as a family. But there are also some ideas that I just can’t go along with among some house church purists. This includes things like: conspiracy theories about the Institutional Church (including the idea that all Pastors are either self-serving, narcissitic, greedy, or psychotically controlling), christian anarchy as a form of church government, and the forbidding of all sermons or teaching in church meetings.
There are in fact some things that large, mega churches can do that, quite frankly could never be done by a church with a membership of only 100-200 people. Without Mars Hill, there is no Acts 29 Church Planting network (Mars Hill also gives a way a ton of free resources). Without Vineyard Columbus there would be no Vineyard Institute to train & equip church planters & future leaders. A friend of mine was able to do an internship last summer at Elevation church – not happening at a small rural church struggling to break 50 in attendance and a staff of one part-time pastor with no secretary (just sayin’). But let’s face it there are some problems with large institutional churches too! Like sitting theater-style seating just encourages an “entertain me” (vice participatory) mentality. Institutional churches can’t seem to help but reinforce the already rampant disease of “consumer Christianity” – if you don’t provide me and my family with the Christian products and services we want (a “rockin” youth ministry, Beach-themed VBS curriculum, Christian concerts, yearly sermon series on Families…) then we’ll just take our tithe to the church down the street with that new hipster worship leader that everybody has been talking about! And anybody whose church has ever broken an attendance of 200 knows the challenge of “staying small as we continue to grow.” Has anybody ever actually, successfully created a church of small groups rather than just a church that has small groups?
We are told “that young adults, in particular, have turned away from organized religion” – OK. But is there any way to find a “best of both worlds approach” in the war between the Organic Church movement and the traditional, Institutional approach? Could a compromise be found in the cell-church model? According to Ralph Moore anyone can Pastor a cell church! All you need to do is develop a weekly sermon and hold a meeting with your staff once a week. Is that an exaggeration? Perhaps, but it depends on how closely you actually stick to a pure cell-church model. It also probably depends on whether your church embraces the end-all, be-all, do-all, Senior Pastor model of church government. Remember, in the cell-church model, all small groups use a sermon-based discussion format, and all of your pastoral care comes from your small group not the larger institutional church body. One thing is for sure, consumer Christians, will flee from a cell church like the place is on fire! ‘Cause they’re not gonna get the program-based ministry that they have become so accustomed to!
So what do you think? Could the cell-church model be the solution to the organic vs. institutional church wars? Can you think of other ways of doing church that involve a compromise between organic and institutional church? Have you successfully incorporated more organic forms & practices into your traditional church? How has it worked out?
Honestly, I’m kinda thinking out loud here, so please, let me know what you think in the comments below!